NEW DELHI: “How low can you stoop?” was the question posed by a senior Indian diplomat hours after Pakistan released a video on Thursday showing Kulbhushan Jadhav reiterating he was an Indian Navy officer spying in Pakistan, and accusing Indian officials of shouting at his family during their brief meeting in Islamabad on December 25. Jadhav is on death row in Pakistan for spying, and the case is pending before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands.
“This is a pathetic attempt by Islamabad to buttress their case at the ICJ, but it won’t work because coerced statements by prisoners are not acceptable by the UN court,” said the diplomat requesting anonymity due to protocol. “I feel sorry for Jadhav, who’s obviously been tortured and coerced into this, and his family that was treated like dirt as part of Pakistan’s so called humanitarian gesture on Christmas last year,” he said. “As for Pakistan, they have just plumbed the depths of depravity.”
The official response was no less caustic. “This does not come as a surprise. Pakistan is continuing its practice of putting out coerced statements on video. It is time for them to realise that such propagandistic exercises simply carry no credibility. The absurdity of a captive under duress certifying his own welfare while mouthing allegations of his captors clearly merits no comment. Pakistan is best advised to fulfil its international obligations, whether it pertains to consular relations or UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373 on terrorism and to desist from continuing violations of human rights of an Indian national,” said a statement released by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
“The captive extolling the virtues of the captor is something that only Pakistan can believe that the rest of the world will buy. Pakistan perhaps has the least credibility in the comity of nations. The latest spectacle of Jadhav’s recorded video only reinforces that image of Pakistan,” says Prakash Nanda, senior foreign and defence analyst and the editor of Geopolitics magazine.
“This video was produced by Pakistan, so it was definitely coerced,” says former Army chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhury. “Because Pakistan holds the trump card, which is Kulbhushan Jadhav. Now they are preparing a fresh case for the ICJ to prove that Jadhav is a terrorist. To bolster that case, they prepared this confessional video, which was made under duress.”
This the fourth video by Jadhav released by Pakistan. The first was used to convict him in a military court on April 10, 2017, which sentenced him to death. After repeated requests for consular access were denied, India filed a case before the ICJ, which on May 18 stayed his execution.
In the second video, released in June, Jadhav said he was tasked with funding Balochistan separatists by India’s Research & Analysis Wing, and that he had helped “30 to 40 RAW operatives along the Makran Coast” infiltrate into Pakistan for terrorist activities.
The third confessional video came just after Pakistan allowed Jadhav’s wife and mother to talk to him through a glass partition at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on December 25, where he thanked Pakistan for its kindness and again admited to spying for India.
“Pakistan is obviously on the backfoot, given the fiasco over the meeting between Jadhav and his family,” says Nitin Gokhale, strategic affairs analyst and author four books on military, conflicts and wars.