Kulbhushan Jadhav and India’s Balochistan Obsession

Following Pakistan’s decision to hang Kulbhushan Jadhav, accused of spying for India in Pakistan, strong political and media statements have started coming out of New Delhi. Subramanian Swamy, member of the Indian upper house, tweeted yesterday calling on the Indian government to recognise Balochistan as an independent country, and support its exiled leadership.

Jadhav’s conviction through a Field General Court Martial came as a surprise, but was not unexpected as he, according to officials, was considered a prized catch by the Pakistani security agencies.  The reaction from all sections in India, considering the seriousness of the matter and past precedents, was somewhat surprising. This is what prominent Indian twitter users had to say on the issue:

India had time and again asked for consular access to Jadhav, which Pakistan constantly denied.  Rejection by Pakistan of 13 requests between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017 for consular access to Jadhav contributed in their own way to New Delhi’s strident attitude. Reactions from political leadership and experts have been stronger compared to past.  “We need to warn Pakistan, if they hang Jadhav, there will be dire consequences,” said Subramanian Swamy, senior BJP leader. Shekhar Gupta, a writer and anchor, also warned Pakistan of dire consequences.

Swamy was also of the view that India does not necessarily need to maintain good ties with its neighbour, especially because of the wrong perception that such ties were necessary Hindu Muslim unity in India. Swamy’s statements show lack of understanding of the situation in his own country where “Cow-Loving” brigades have recently surfaced for a crusade against meat-eating Muslims.

Also, India might be dreaming of a Bangladeshi deja-vu when its security agencies and “spies” helped “liberate” East Pakistan from West, a confession which PM Modi recently made. Swamy also failed to acknowledge the treatment Pakistani prisoners get in India; when in 2013 a Pakistani was bashed with a hammer in an Indian prison. Even after such instances, politicians in Pakistan refrained from issuing stern statements. Sadly, India always fails to show reciprocity of positive Pakistani advances for peaceful bilateral ties.

Swamy, when talking about Balochistan, isn’t alone in his separatist narrative towards Pakistan’s Balochistan. Indian PM Modi, since last year, has openly discussed Balochistan in his public and official addresses. Experts believe that in Balochistan, India has found an arrow in its quiver against Pakistan. And this arrow has since been used by Indian politicians to irk Pakistan. What India forgets at this sensitive point in time is its own insurgencies in, or for, Nagaland, Manipur, Kashmir and Khalistan. Rather than trying to set its own house in order, India is constantly fixating itself on Pakistan’s internal matters.

Now with Jadhav’s conviction, One thing is for sure; the Indian government is bound to retaliate. The level of retaliation is yet to be seen. Pakistan, considering India’s global influence, should also anticipate pressures form the international community. But should Pakistan succumb to such pressures for merely dealing with a foreign spy, accused of destabilizing the country, under the Army Act? History has shown examples of countries such as Sri Lanka, taking stringent actions to ensure their national security.

Countering the Indian narrative and media offensive will represent a formidable challenge for a country, which is good in reaction but tardy in proactive thinking. We are in for another round of strong rivalry with India, with no end in sight. But even with the current tensions, positive statements – with Pakistan’s NSA General Janjua calling for engagement and dialogue with India – coming out from Islamabad also provide some hope for constructive bilateral ties between the neighbours.

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