Victory is not a term that sits easy when a death sentence of a fellow citizen is pending in a hostile neighbour. But it does describe one aspect of the nationwide sense of relief brought about by the International Court of Justice’s stay order on former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution by Pakistan. Now, death by execution is a morbid affair, and for some that creeping sense of something essentially evil can be eliminated only when capital punishment itself is made to disappear from the lexicon of punitive justice. For them, the final ‘victory’ can only come with that.
Which is why, among those who heartily welcomed the stay on Jadhav’s execution on social media were those leaning towards seeing things in terms of human rights. Ironically, in this instance, they were one with those who would ordinarily call their stance as expressing too much idealism. But that’s another debate. In the specific geopolitical situation we find ourselves in—the attritional, militaristic relation with a neighbour—human life seems to have all kinds of value, including that which comes via sacrifice and mutilation.
The game of geopolitics is indeed played on that matrix. But as things stand, Pakistan should realise its policy of subterfuge and skulduggery has always been counterproductive for its global image. It should see sense and abide by the advice of the ICJ and give India consular access to Jadhav. Hopefully it will not follow in the footsteps of China in the arbitration on the South China Sea which went in the favour of Philippines. Because, here is a human life and not just ‘nine dotted lines’ on the map and an expansionist agenda at stake.
Pakistan still has a chance to not make itself and its secretive military court look like a medieval kangaroo court. The jammer on Islamabad’s agenda could not have been put without the timely initiative of our External Affairs Minister and her team and the brilliant defence put up by lawyer Harish Salve on all international norms, including the Vienna Convention.