Every new path in Indo-Pak relations ends in a treacherous cul-de-sac. Yet, after every ambush the twins born of colonial cunning go back to start it all over again. Even Ajmal Kasab walking up and down the South Mumbai streets with an automatic rifle in hand did not change the pattern; nor did four wars and the splitting of Pakistan into two. Indira’s generosity after victory, Vajpayee’s peace bus, Manmohan Singh’s Sharm el-Sheikh blunder and Modi’s surprise birthday gift for Nawaz Sharif, nothing ever changed the Pakistan deep state’s attempts to bleed India with a thousand cuts and a million mutinies. But the Pulwama bomb attack and the retaliatory Balakot airstrikes have broken the cycle of Pak attacks and Indian negotiations.
It is in this context we need to look at the recent events: the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) asking Pakistan to review its decision to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav, the arrest of Hafiz Saeed the very same day and the just-concluded Kartarpur corridor talks. The Government of India, with great reverence to the Guru, upholding the Sikh sentiments, has rightly kept the Kartarpur corridor out of the ambit of Indo-Pak negotiations. Apart from Sikhs, only Hindus worship at gurdwaras and revere the Guru, yet Pakistan tried its best to ban Hindus to turn the corridor communal. Despite all these provocations and the legitimate fear of Pakistan fanning 2020 secessionist fires, New Delhi has honoured the wishes of its Sikh and Hindu believers by building the corridor.
Now, if Pakistan really wants to break out of its vicious cycle of terror and talks, it should let Jadhav go home. The ICJ verdict does not acquit Jadhav, as it did not have the jurisdiction to examine the evidence for and against the accused. But the spirit of the ICJ decision is in favour of Jadhav’s return. Beyond the breach of Article 36, 1 (b) of the Vienna Convention, what have been exposed are the mock trial and the use of a former Indian Naval officer as a tool to settle diplomatic scores. Pakistan cannot achieve anything more by keeping Jadhav in its custody. Jadhav’s release can lure India back to the talks table.
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