Pakistan’s publicity stunt

AuthorPublished: 28th Dec 2017  12:00 amUpdated: 27th Dec 2017  6:21 pm

In its desperation to play the victimhood card after suffering international isolation for nurturing terrorist outfits, Pakistan has been using Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, as a scapegoat to peddle a false counter-narrative against India. The meeting between Jadhav, facing death sentence on espionage charges, and his mother and wife was a farcical exercise choreographed by Islamabad to impress international community and to establish its non-existent humanitarian credentials. The entire proceedings of the meeting and the way it was used as a public relations exercise by Pakistan smacked of a new low in diplomacy. The humiliating treatment meted out to Jadhav’s mother and wife has triggered fresh tensions between the two countries. There is a wide sense of outrage in India over the way security officials forced them to remove their Mangalsutras, bangles, bindis and other ornaments before the meeting which was held from behind a glass panel. A galore of pointless restrictions was put in place as they were made to interact through intercom under the searching glare of security officials. Such utter disregard for religious and cultural sensibilities of the family members of a prisoner under the pretext of security exposes Pakistan’s petty mindedness. As if this was not enough, the hapless family members were booed, heckled and verbally assaulted by the Pakistani media in what was clearly a well-coordinated move. The entire exercise lacked credibility because it was essentially meant to bolster the false narrative of Jadhav’s alleged spying activities in Pakistan.

It is ironic that a country which harbours UN designated terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and exports terror wants to be seen as a victim of terrorism. Clearly, Pakistan showcased the sham meeting as a humanitarian gesture to impress the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which stayed Jadhav’s execution earlier this year. The Hague-headquartered world court, which is hearing India’s appeal for Jadhav’s early release, upheld New Delhi’s contention that the former naval officer was handed out death sentence by a Pakistani military court without being given fair trial, legal representation or consular access, in violation of the Vienna Convention. India has contended that Jadhav, after retiring from the Navy, was engaged in legitimate business in Iran. He was abducted from there by Pakistanis and presented as an Indian spy seeking to foment terrorist activity in Pakistan. The brazenness with which the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) handled the case and awarded death sentence to Jadhav reflects its utter disregard for the established international norms and practices. It is clear that the trial was farcical and the verdict was pronounced without examining the evidence objectively and judiciously. If Pakistan’s intentions are genuine, then it must give Jadhav a fair civil trial and consular access.