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Shutting down Pak special ops desk was a mistake
Nikhil Bhave | Monday, 17 April 2017 AT 01:26 PM IST
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The diplomatic tension between India and Pakistan is heating up yet again. Last week, Pakistan announced that Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian navy officer and alleged R&AW personnel according to Pakistan, was given the death sentence ‘for espionage and sabotage activities’ in the restive region of Balochistan, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Now, let us start with the assumption that he is a spy. Why is the country not handing over proof regarding the same to India? Why is it that he has been denied consular access? Also, in a damning indictment, the Pakistani establishment itself had admitted in December 2016 that the evidence against him was ‘inconclusive.’ The adviser to PM, Sartaj Aziz, told the Pak Assembly so, reported Dawn on December 6, 2016. Then again, will an Indian spy carry an Indian passport while on a mission in enemy territory? Not even Bollywood flicks are naïve enough to show such fallacies.

Espionage and counter-espionage are a part and parcel of international diplomacy.  One of the biggest blunders an Indian government committed till date was shutting down Pakistan Special Ops desk. This act was committed by Inder Kumar Gujral as a ‘confidence building measure.’ What it led to, according to many analysts, was that India was caught napping on various times, including the Kargil war. On the other hand, the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, continues to show its prowess by committing acts like 26/11.

Espionage attracts death penalty in most countries, but there is a fixed protocol to be observed. In Jadhav’s case, he is a foreign national allegedly kidnapped from another foreign country, and has been denied consular access and thus, his choice of legal aid. That Pakistan tells us that he was given a ‘defending officer’ itself is bound to attract nothing but ridicule given the lack of consular access.  And more than often, such spies are not executed, but swapped for the arresting country’s own arrested assets. There are some places which were (in)famous for such swaps, like the bridge of no return in North Korea.

Now, there are news that a senior Pakistani military official has gone missing in Nepal and Pakistani media is reporting that a swap with Jadhav may well be in the offing.

Gujral’s move may appear well-intentioned, but the various intelligence setbacks have cost India a lot. It has been rightly said that ‘an eye for an eye makes the world blind.’ But what are you supposed to do with someone hell-bent on poking your eyes out?


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