As India toils over the fate of its citizen, former navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, here is a peek into the mind of the man — Pakistan's Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa — through the eyes of former Indian Army Chief, General Bikram Singh (retired). It is plausible that the Indian government may ask General Singh to reach out to Bajwa. Bajwa served under him on a United Nations mission. But, General Singh suspects that the institution of the Pakistan Army, nurtured over decades of India-phobia, may have hijacked the mind of an otherwise professional soldier. Here are the excerpts from Sujan Dutta's interview with General Singh.
Firstpost: You know General Qamar Javed Bajwa personally since you were his commander on a United Nations mission in Congo and Africa. What kind of a man is he?
General Bikram Singh: General Qamar Javed Bajwa, as a Brigadier, was one of my brigade commanders in the multinational Eastern Division that I commanded in the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). The Eastern Division then comprised two brigades — one each from India and Pakistan — and in addition, it had a number of battalions and independent companies from 16 other countries. In the international milieu, I found then Brigadier Bajwa totally committed to MONUC's mandate and the ideals of the United Nations. He consistently exhibited a positive attitude with great respect for diversity. During my official visits to his brigade, he would scrupulously abide by the military decorum and protocols. Well, that was the Pakistani Army's Chief almost a decade ago. In his journey from a tactical commander in MONUC to now a strategic leader, he surely would have acquired and shaped his conceptual skills and frames of reference, which will now govern his conduct. In my earlier columns on him in India Today and The Week magazines, I had mentioned that notwithstanding his moderate leanings, apolitical with strong democratic credentials, he will not be able to change Pakistan Army's stance towards India.
GBS: Keeping the Kashmir pot boiling along with a calibrated hostile posturing against India helps the Pakistan army retain its centrality and exclusive domestic stature. That's why. No Pakistan Army chief would ever like to lose that coveted position. Moreover, any such initiative will invite tremendous resistance not just from the military serving and retired fraternity but also the India-centric terrorist groups — Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
FP: Bajwa was seen as a sensible choice by Nawaz Sharif.
GBS: Given his credentials, it was a sensible choice. However, as I brought out earlier, Pakistani Army Chiefs have no option but to follow the well-trodden path of their predecessors.
FP: How do you think he has handled the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav?
GBS: I think the entire trial, by what I would call a Kangaroo court, is a farce. An innocent Indian has been implicated without any proof. The statements of the German and Iranian diplomats alluding to Jadhav being caught in Iran and then brought to Balochistan have been blatantly ignored. Moreover, he has been denied counsellor access. I am glad the government has been quite emphatic about the shape of things to come, should Pakistan continue with its deceitful behaviour. Pakistan appears to be testing our threshold of tolerance.
FP: Since you knew him personally — and Pakistani lawyers are saying Bajwa can determine Jadhav's fate — do you think you can intervene to secure Jadhav's release?
GBS: That is up to the government to decide. However, it needs to be remembered that UN affiliations only go up to a point. National interests have their pre-eminence. Therefore, whether such equations will be useful in changing the mind of the Pakistani Army Chief is anybody's guess. However, I am of the view that the nation must exercise all possible options to secure the release of our former naval officer.
Published Date: Apr 12, 2017 15:27 PM | Updated Date: Apr 12, 2017 18:09 PM