<b>Fifth Columnist:</b> Isolation, no problems
The Jadhav case has internationalised the issue, but not in the way Pakistan was hoping it would
With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) pronouncing its preliminary verdict on the trial of former Indian naval commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, the key question among those interested is this: where does the case go from here?
When Pakistan’s intelligence agencies laid their hands on Jadhav, Islamabad believed that they had finally got the smoking gun needed to prove beyond doubt that New Delhi was behind the separatist movement in troubled Balochistan, also Pakistan’s largest province.
It hasn’t worked that way. The ICJ has stayed Jadhav’s execution, announced unilaterally at the behest of a Pakistani military court, while it hears India’s plea that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying consular access to Jadhav. In the event, it said that India’s assertion is ‘plausible’.
In other words, the Jadhav case has internationalised the issue all right, but not in the way Pakistan was hoping it would. The ICJ’s ruling is a direct snub to Pakistan, which is arguing that the ICJ lacks jurisdiction to pronounce a judgment on a spy who was leading sabotage activities inside their country.

Reports from Pakistan suggest that even in the case of Jadhav, there appears to be a clear divide between the civilian and military leadership. Strangely, while the Pakistani military has preferred not to make a statement on the ICJ ruling, the Punjab state government in an official release said that Pakistan was duty bound by the ICJ order. The statement came from a politician close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has traditionally favoured close ties with India.
Jadhav’s future, precariously balanced as it is between life and death, now hinges on this deep divide. Hawks in that country have suggested that the ICJ ruling can go to hell and that its jurisdiction does not run over internal security matters inside the country.
The point of examination here is whether Pakistan is willing to risk international opprobrium and go ahead with executing the former Indian naval commander. Till now, there is nothing to suggest that Islamabad is willing to play by the rules of the book.
The fear of Pakistan losing international goodwill is not something, it seems, that matters a great deal to the country’s security establishment. It would be instructive to remember that Osama bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, a military cantonment, where he was living for close to 10 years. Can it anyone’s case that an international fugitive was hiding in a hard-core military area, without its secret service getting wind of who was living there? Why Pakistan, can anyone start living in an Indian cantonment area without the knowledge of the local military intelligence, that too a global terrorist, whom no less than the United States is in hot pursuit?

It would also do well to jog your memory and go back to 1979, when Pakistan’s Qaid-e-Awam Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged on specious charges of murdering a political opponent. The case, when it was being heard, turned out to be one of the most cooked up pieces of evidence in judicial history, at least in South Asia. Witnesses reneged from their preliminary statements, their evidences were changed for a second and third time and the whole trial was a farce of the worst kind, even as Pakistan’s most important political leader stood incarcerated and brutalised.
In the run up to the hanging, there was widespread international pressure on Pakistan to grant clemency to Bhutto (even on trumped up charges). From the US to Pakistan’s closest allies in the Arab world left no stone unturned to get a reprieve for Bhutto, but President Gen Ziaul Haq revealed that the military was not that impressed by international opinion, irrespective of consequences. There is nothing to suggest that things have changed since then in any meaningful way.
Do-gooders, who argue that Pakistan’s case of India-sponsored terror is the same as India’s charges against Pakistan of promoting cross-border terror, are missing the point. Even if we assume that Pakistan’s case on Jadhav is totally accurate, a single spy distributing money and arms to insurgents in Balochistan can hardly be equated with running anti-India and anti-US jihadi camps, now close to three decades.
If the idea is convince the world (read the developed, aid-giving countries) that India is behind all the troubles in Pakistan, it is hardly worth the effort. Many, if not all such countries, have over the years documented Pakistan’s intelligence services’ overt and covert assistance to global terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. It has not helped that these groups have proliferated over the years, despite innumerable warnings issued to Pakistan – another signal, if indeed a signal was required – that international opinion counts f0r little at the GHQ in Rawalpindi.
If anything, Jadhav’s case is yet another attempt, albeit a clumsy one, to prove that but for the military establishment in that country, Pakistan would be at the mercy of India.

It is true that there is a robust civil society beyond the military in Pakistan, which is as pained by its establishment as anyone in India. The point, however, is how much do they matter, particularly in today’s situation when relations between the two countries, have reached a new low.
ranjitbhushan@mydigitalfc.com
Columnist: 
Ranjit Bhushan
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