Imran's antics find a perfect match in Modi's Jadhav, Kashmir strategy

Published : Sep 06, 2019 09:35 am | By: M D Sridharan



Modi scores diplomatic win over Imran in the India-Pakistan conflict.

India has scored a major diplomatic victory over Pakistan by getting consular access to jailed Kulbhushan Jadhav, the imprisoned former Indian Navy officer on death row on espionage charge in Pakistan. The development comes at a time when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team of ministers have kicked up a war hysteria over the Narendra Modi government's decision to abrogate Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite the gain on the global forums on the Kashmir issue and a favourable decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) backing New Delhi's claim in Jadhav caser, the Indian establishment cannot take Pakistan's deceptive diplomacy lightly as Islamabad took nearly a month and a half to comply with the ICJ's July 17 directive on giving India consular access to Jadhav.

Also, when India's Chargé d'Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav, 49, at a sub-jail, Pakistan managed to succeed in ensuring the presence of its officials during the interaction. Despite India's objections, the entire two-hour proceedings were also recorded in which Jadhav reportedly repeated the Pakistan's 'tutored' version that he was a serving Indian Navy officer sent across the border to execute terrorist strikes in Balochistan before being arrested on March 3, 2016.

Under the watchful eyes of Pakistani officials, Jadhav appeared to be under "extreme pressure" to parrot a false Pakistani narrative in his case, just as he did when his mother and wife visited him in a Pakistani jail on December 25, 2017. Even during his family members' visit there were allegations that the two women were ill-treated by Pakistan.In the latest meeting between Indian envoy and Jadhav, Fareeha Bugti, Pakistan's Foreign Office's Director (India), was present. She kept a watchful eye on the interaction between Jadhav and Ahluwalia. Bugti was also present during the meeting between Jadhav and his family members in December 2017.

While Indian foreign minister S Jaishanker spoke to Jadhav's mother and informed her about the Pakistan jail meeting between the envoy and the former Naval officer, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) went on a diplomatic offensive to deride the limited access to Jadhav given by Islamabad.

Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesman, said, "We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Cd'A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives."

Apart from the Jadhav case, abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir by India is hurting as another thorn in Imran Khan's flesh. There is credible evidence with the Indian security establishment that Pakistan tried to circulate doctored videos on social media to spark trouble in the Valley after the Modi government revoked Article 370. Now, there is a high possibility that ISI and Pakistani military may commission terror strikes in the Valley by Afghan militia and terrorists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the coming days to run down India and attract international attention on the so-call unrest in the Valley after Article 370 revocation.

After Modi's Kashmir move, the response from Imran Khan, who drew a spectre of nuclear holocaust, has not been surprising. He even criticised the United Nations for remaining quiet on the issue of alleged atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir. However, his attempt to seek international support in the name of religion rings hollow in the face of credible evidence with Indian intelligence establishment that it is the ISI, the intelligence agency of a Muslim country like Pakistan, which is indulging in separatist activities in other Muslim nations like Iran and Afghanistan.

Despite the heavy economic cost of fighting proxy wars with its neighbours, Pakistan has not corrected its course and the administration in that country is still indulging in India-bashing and using the Kashmir issue to divert public attention from its own failure on the home front. As Pakistan is under an international terror watch, the international aid to it has come down to a trickle. Its economy is in bad shape with essential items getting costly with inflation hovering around 10%, unemployment on the rise and about 25% of people living below the poverty line. Recently, Pakistan allocated 42% of its budget for debt repayment and 17% of budget for defence. In such a scenario, it is clear to see the reasons why Pakistan is grimacing at India's recent diplomatic success, so far, on both Jadhav and Kashmir issues. Imran badly needs to demonstrate to Pakistanis that even if he does not have a magic remedy to cure the economic woes he is leaving no stone unturned to fight India.

India needs to remain watchful and on guard against deceitful Pakistan till the day Jadhav actually lands in India. Pakistan, a cash-strapped country whose politicians and military rulers rely on rhetoric to divert public attention from their administrative problems, is not in a mood to take the blow lying down and is likely to weave a complex diplomatic labyrinth for Modi and his team on the international stage in the near future.

The UN General Assembly's 74th session will open on September 17, incidentally the birthday of Modi, and Pakistan is desperate to foment trouble in the Valley before or during the session so that Kashmir turns into an internationally-debated issue. Apart from China and Turkey, Pakistan has failed to evoke much support from other countries in taking on India diplomatically on the Kashmir issue. On New Delhi's part, it is extremely important to maintain peace in the Valley till the end of the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly meetings and Modi's address to the international community from that forum is over.

In this delicate scenario, there is a visible desperation among Pakistan leaders to resort to N-war rhetoric. The fear of losing the Jadhav case in ICJ appears to have added to the worries of Islamabad, so has its helplessness over the prospect of India managing to maintain peace in the Valley in the post-Article 370 era. While Pakistan government is known to fuel anti-India and Kashmir hysteria to deflect public attention from its own failures, the Modi government enjoys an advantage in dealing with the complexities of the current diplomatic tangle as its Balakot air-strike has left the Pakistani establishment wondering what New Delhi's response would be if it tries to foment trouble on the border, in Kashmir or executes threats to declare war against India.

There is a high probability that Pakistan will try to mix issues of Jadhav's trial, Islamabad's opposition to India's move on Article 370 in Kashmir and the on-going talks on the Kartarpur corridor for allowing Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a holy shrine in Pakistan to trouble and confront India repeatedly at international platforms. But the takeaway from the manoeuvres by the Modi government in the post-Pulwama days is very clear that New Delhi is moving several steps ahead of Islamabad's machinery to generate support for itself in the global area. Still, the misleading and divergent responses emerging from Pakistan on Jadhav trial and Kashmir developments need to be watched carefully for some time as the confused and cash-strapped neighbour's responses are still evolving and aligning to the international community's response to the competing claims of New Delhi and Islamabad.

In Pakistan, issues like Kashmir, India, religion and support for the Army have traditionally been used as a glue to bind the country's people together. Realising this, the next big test for the Modi government is to take the Indian masses along and continue to blunt fulminations of the deceitful neighbour who would want the spark trouble to save its own ship from sinking.


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