Make no mistake about it. Pakistan's statement that Kulbhushan Jadhav has yet again, admitted that he is guilty of espionage by requesting army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for clemency is the first step towards the gallows.
We always knew Pakistan would milk Jadhav for all they were worth. And they are.
The next rung on that ladder will be an appeal to the Pakistan president. After that it's open season. Anything can happen now that we know Pakistan has no intention of honouring the ruling of the International Court of Justice beyond offering camouflage and some lip service.
Even as India moves on to other issues and the plight of the former naval officer fails to get traction either with the media or the masses, there is one way out to save Jadhav: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the White House.
If Modi can push US president Donald Trump to pressure Pakistan into letting Jadhav go — by getting something that allows them to save face and lets all parties receive plaudits — it could be the prime minister's greatest win.
Modi has a trump card: India's shopping list for military hardware. With a $54 billion budget and $8 billion marked for blue water firepower, India’s movement away from the clutches of second-rate Russian equipment these past sixty years could well jump start America’s military hardware industry. Trump will do more than backslapping and hugging if he feels his Indian guest is not just browsing.
With the Tatas locking in a deal to manufacture America's F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 60s (the oldest active fighter upgrades ever) with Lockheed Martin and the approval of the sale of 22 Guardian drones to India just before Modi touches down, the US has clearly indicated that their store is open for business.
Between missile systems, gunships, stealth frigates, nuclear powered submarines and across the board equipment that gives India enhanced capability for for engaging in urban battles and adds to its swiftness in taking pre-emptive action, the Americans would throw Pakistan and its faux-righteousness under the bus without a second thought and pressure them into letting Jadhav off the hook while showering themselves with praise for their generosity and mercy.
The timing is perfect. This is the end of the holy month and the spirit of Eid affords Pakistan the perfect window to exercise clemency, mercy or grace.
By doing so, Pakistan not only raises its own image on the global stage, but also saves a life and comes out looking reasonable. All the others in this play will go along. Everyone wins. This is what diplomacy is all about.
For Pakistan to not grasp this opportunity to look good as it piously lets Jadhav go and makes India grateful (at least in pretense) would be self-indulgent and shortsighted.
Everything else Modi does is mere fluff. If he can use these two days to get Trump to make that call to Pakistan, this trip would be a triumph.
Make Jadhav your mission, prime minister. Bring our boy home.
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Updated Date: Jun 24, 2017 16:06:08 IST