Kulbhushan Jadhav case: As India loses interest, releasing him could help Pakistan change 'rogue' image

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is analysing the evidence against former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav in response to Jadhav's mercy petition. This development came about after a military appellate tribunal rejected the plea.

There is nothing really to analyse and the procedural agenda is being followed by Pakistan as per its arbitrary schedule. The August deadline for appeals to run out looms and the death sentence is that much closer.

File image of Kulbhushan Jadhav. PTI

File image of Kulbhushan Jadhav. PTI

Between the public interest litigation asking the Lahore High Court not to permit the Pakistan government to free Jadhav but to ensure he is hanged, and the dilly dallying over granting his mother a visa to visit him, the chessboard is set for the endgame.

Islamabad has sussed out that the issue in India is no longer on the front burner and that public and official stamina has lost its wind after the orgy of backslapping self-congratulations engaged in by the media and ministers when the International Court of Justice halted his execution in May and indicted Pakistan on six counts. None of this intimidated Pakistan and it did not even bother to grant the basic call for consular access.

Truth be told India has no evidence that he is even alive.

Jadhav's importance is lessening for Pakistan because of the loss of traction this issue has suffered in the Indian mind. There is no percentage now in hanging him and it is our swift turnover of the newsworthy that might be his salvation.

This is ironical. Because we have taken our foot of the pedal, Jadhav might be saved through our natural ennui. Without an audience in this theatre, Pakistan’s performance is moot. So, why not come out smelling good? Show the world that Pakistan has mercy, it is not a rogue state, it has laws, it means well and seeks peace — all these elements and more giving this otherwise beleaguered nation a shine.

It can bleed its show of compassion for months to come, even dunking this doughnut into the Kashmir cup of tea, and using it as a heavy bargaining chip against its neighbour the next time there is an impasse.

Compare all this to the paltry advantages of executing him: A two-day furore in India, half a dozen unread editorials, some garbled high-pitched shrillness on television channels, the extinguishing of a life, the underscoring of Pakistan as a cruel entity and the worsening of relations.

There's more edge in continuing the charade till it runs dry, and then being the good guy.

The PR quotient in releasing Jadhav is, therefore, much higher than in killing him. The first step towards the humanitarian option has already been made. The leading Pakistani newspaper, Dawn has called for the mother of the alleged 'spy' to be granted a visa and allowed to meet her son. If that happens, can consular access be far behind? There is no logic in denying it once he has been met.

Is it not ironical that our growing indifference to this man’s plight could well be the trigger for his release. Stranger things have happened.


Published Date: Jul 17, 2017 08:28 pm | Updated Date: Jul 17, 2017 08:28 pm

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