— Shantanu Mukharji
Pakistan displayed its worst conduct and most deplorable action by insulting aged mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jadhav, currently in captivity in a Pakistani prison, undergoing charges of alleged spying. On an auspicious day like Christmas, Pakistan authorities not only stripped Kulbhushan’s wife’s Mangalsutra and hair pins and other items on her person, but didn’t allow the mother to speak to her incarcerated son in their mother tongue. Such scant respect for an elderly woman speaks volumes of the decaying Pakistani society bereft of all humanitarian norms and elementary ethics.
This apart, the media and general public were spurred by the authorities at the entrance of the prison to boo the aged woman and her daughter-in-law using most unpleasant words to vehemently hurt the feelings of the immediate family members of the victim who are already under enormous trauma praying ceaselessly to save Jadhav from the gallows of death.
Such condemnable acts on part of Pakistan, demonstrates blatant violation of the basic human rights by each segment of a perverse State like Pakistan, be it military, media, both print and electronic, general populace, civil administration or the political leadership. It’s yet to be seen any social activist or human rights’ champion coming forward and castigating Pakistan authorities for such an inhuman act devoid of any civility.
Pakistan must remember that in the wake of 1971 war with India leading to its dismemberment and creation of Bangladesh, 93,000 Pakistani troops meekly surrendered before India and India ensured that all the Prisoners of War (POWs) were treated in strict accordance of humanitarian norms and they all returned unharmed, unscathed and intact. Geneva convention or no Geneva convention, Indian society, political leadership and all rose above any parochial thoughts and treated the POWs with respect. Their crimes against humanity in Bangladesh, perpetrated in terms of genocide, mass rapes and multiple heinous acts went condoned. That’s the strength of Indian culture and ethos where humanity reigned supreme.
On the other hand, Pakistan reeling under compulsory amnesia, has acted in a most abusive manner urgently calling for an universal condemnation.
Also, those Indian soldiers caught alive after the Kargil war, were tortured in most cruel form and even dead bodies were not spared from inflicting grotesque physical abuse by the Pakistani military. Imagine merely 28 years of their decisive defeat in the last war of 1971, they could still resort to such inhuman acts. It even exceeded and glaringly overshot the limits of the maxim “All is fair in love and war” !
Both the military, and the society in Pakistan seem to be perennially sick and have run out of any ethics and code of conduct. No wonder, it’s labelled as a rogue state and a country awaiting slow and steady process of disintegration and further atrophy leading to a paralysis of existence and eventual collapse.
All these arguments, as elucidated above, are reinforced with fury in the recent handling of the incident when Jadhav’s mother and wife were subjected to such undesirable and avoidable acts.
In hindsight, we now feel that those Pakistani bashers in India were, and are, possibly justified when they say that Pakistan deserves a quid pro quo treatment howsoever harsh it may seem. “An eye for an eye” or “a tooth for a tooth” retaliatory measure is perhaps the prevailing sentiment amongst the majority of Indians. Will the Indian military or the government go for it in any case of involving a Pakistani on charges of espionage or act of terror, has to be watched closely.
Conversely, it is hard to assess that till 1947, it was one India. Same people and largely the same cultures but what led to this part of the fragmented India becoming so different? And different in a negative sense. Defeat of Pakistan in the hands of India in the successive wars – Kashmir in 1947/48, 1965, 1971 and misadventure in Kargil has not taught Pakistan any lesson. Time has now come to burst its balloon of incorrigibility. Back channel or track two diplomacy does not seem to be working. Is a military option viable? Or a covert operation? Let’s leave it to our military hawks and thinkers. But there has to be a visible action.
I have attended multiple international meets as a security hand where Pakistan was also present. Never saw a harmonious Pakistan team either by appearance, or by actions or gestures. Their attitude was always acrimonious and hostile even on routine professional interactions. The mindset has always been negative and offensive, also undiplomatic, with no finesse.
To share an anecdote, in 1988 at a SAARC summit in Pakistan, we were allotted a car and the old driver, one Iqbal, was warm and friendly and we too warmed upto him. While driving us through Islamabad, he generally enquired about his childhood friend whom he lost after partition if we could find out about him. The infamous ISI who were shadowing us, grew suspicious and the next day he was removed from the roster and admonished for being ‘close’ to the visiting Indians. Some of the fellow drivers confided that Iqbal was subject to sustained interrogation. We were disheartened and requested the Pakistani foreign ministry officials to re detail Iqbal with us. The officials of the foreign ministry, supposedly diplomats, used most undiplomatic and unparliamentary language while dismissing our request.
Same mindset exists even today vis a vis Indians as visible in the case of Jadhav’s mother and wife.
Dwelling on the Pakistan visit in the same year, an incident is worth recalling. A Special Protection Group (SPG) crack team was flown in a special IAF plane, Gajraj (IL 76) commandeered by a legendary pilot, then a Group Captain, Anant Bewoor. Pakistan had, by then not seen an IL 76 aircraft landing on its soil. I could see the line up by a number of Islamabad airport officials to have a view of the mighty Gajaraj. A week later, after the SAARC summit was over, Anant Bewoor came to pick the SPG team to fly back. The Pakistani civil aviation authorities requested me to tell the pilot (Bewoor) to taxi the plane on tarmac upto a considerable distance and then take off. Their plea was based on the fact that last time when the plane took off, it had impacted the Pakistani Fokker friendship aircrafts parked in and out of the hangars went topsy turvy. I told Anant Bewoor but he didn’t yield to the requests and when Gajraj took off with a deafening noise, I could see those planes unsettling with profound impact of the Indian IL 76 almost flinging in the air. Me and my colleagues derived immense pleasure in watching such a pleasant sight. Perhaps an average Indian wants to experience that kind of delight after the unfortunate handling of Kulbhushan’s mother and wife.
We have in India dedicated military leaders and a very committed armed forces. With Indians now reeling under this affront inflicted upon Kulbhushan Jhadav’s mother and wife, the sentiments deserve to be respected with a display of our military might. Time is most opportune now like it were on multiple occasions in the past including an attack on the parliament on December 13, 2001.
Our policy makers know better in their own wisdom and judgment yet an average Indian is deeply hurt by the recent incident. It’s hoped we resort to some effective measure to salvage our prestige. The era of pacifists seems to have passed their prime. It’s action and only action that appears called for.
(Author is a security analyst and retired National Security Advisor, Mauritius)