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Jadhav’s Christmas

Pakistan allowed Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death for espionage in that country, to meet his wife and mother at Christmas. The decision was prompted by multiple motives, domestic and international. In any case, the meeting had to be on the premises of Pakistan’s Foreign Office and only for 40 minutes under close vigilance. India has accused Pakistan of violating agreed principles in the meeting. Pakistan allowed what may be called a media circus. The Foreign Ministry supplied photographs of the meeting only to assure that it had kept its part of the bargain. After the meeting, Jadhav was described as the face of Indian terrorism in Pakistan. The whole show was an act of opportunism. However, Jadhav’s family may be grateful for small mercies. It is clear that Jadhav is not to be granted consular access. India denies that he is a spy and taken his case to the International Court of Justice citing the Vienna Convention. Pakistan has taken refuge in a 2008 bilateral agreement to frustrate this exercise. India claims that Jadhav is a retired naval officer while Pakistan denies it. Pakistan claims that it has given a fair trial to Jadhav but the quality of legal assistance offered to him goes against the contention.

The Christmas meeting however proves that India and Pakistan have backchannel negotiations on Jadhav. But there is no prospect of a way out of this episode in the circumstances. Pakistani politicians would not like to be accused of leniency in the Jadhav case with Assembly elections in the country due in 2008. Indian soldiers crossing the LOC and shooting 3 Pakistani soldiers will not improve matters. 

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