On a day Pakistani investigators visited the Pathankot Air Force station, the Pakistan Army sought to throw the terrorism ball back in India’s court with a video recording of a purported confession by Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested by Pakistani authorities last week on the charge that he was working for Indian spy agency R&AW.
The video recording has created a sensation in Pakistan. It was released in Islamabad at a specially called press conference, where Inter-Services Public Relations head Lt. Gen Asim Bajwa said Jadhav’s “goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with Gwadar port as a special target. This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism…There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan.”
A report in the online portal of Dawn said Jadhav is heard confessing to involvement in the separatist activities in Balochistan in the video and saying that he’s a serving naval officer who was seconded to R&AW.
India has acknowledged that Jadhav is Indian and said he was working in the Navy from which he retired prematurely, but denies that he was working for R&AW. The MEA has rubbished the video that was released in Islamabad today. Despite the many discrepancies in Jadhav’s statements, in Pakistan there are few takers for India’s denial.
“Now”, said Ayesha Siddiqa, an independent commentator on military and strategic affairs, “Pakistan has its own Ajmal Kasab.”
The difference, Siddiqa said, is that while Kasab was dismissed by Pakistan as a “non-state actor”, Jadhav is being projected as evidence of the Indian state’s involvement in disruptive activities inside Pakistan. “India has lost the moral high ground that it used to take on Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism,” said Ejaz Haider, National Security Editor at Capital TV.
The video containing Jadhav’s purported confession was released just as the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan finished its day-long visit to Pathankot and Gurdaspur.
The involvement of “non-state actors” on the soil of another country, Haider argued, “does not directly implicate the country of their origin automatically. But this man (Jadhav) is not a non-state actor… he is creating networks and is involved in subversive terrorist activities”
Haider said the video was also significant in the context of the Easter Sunday bomb attack in Lahore which was being blamed on intelligence failure. “What we’ve got from Jadhav is a spectacular intelligence success,” Haider said.
Contrary to the opinion in India that Jadhav’s arrest queers the pitch for normalising relations at a time when the India is making every effort to reach out to Pakistan, the view in Pakistan is that it would help the process.