It is unwise for any kind of euphoria on India’s victory in getting a favourable order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Always in search of TRPs, Indian TV news channels, by and large, have been exulting, inviting senior retired army men and lawyers from Pakistan to participate in panel discussions where these men say the nastiest of things for India and are paid back in the same coin by anchors and authoritative Indians who breathe fire in turn on the Pakistanis.
What this is doing to people to people contacts between the two countries is for all to see and perceive. With both sides straining to prove their patriotic credentials and impress the viewers about how bold they are, there is often a no-holds-barred battle which is an ugly spectacle. Many a time, the gains in the diplomatic arena are more than negated in TV studios with no real gain to either country. It is time the Narendra Modi government puts a stop to this ‘tu tu main main’ or mutual bad-mouthing and restores to diplomatic discourse an element of decency. It would indeed be in the fitness of things if the electronic media is barred from having Pakistanis on their shows at least until there is a semblance of normalcy between the two countries.
Parallels have been drawn between the cases of Sarabjit Singh and Kulbhushan Jadhav, two Indians who were captured and charged with espionage in Pakistan. The latter’s execution has been stayed by International Court of Justice, but there are concerns over his safety as Sarabjit was tortured and killed in a jail in Pakistan. In a recent website interview, Sarabjit’s lawyer Awais Sheikh has recounted how he was made to pay a heavy price for defending him in a Pakistani court. He was threatened and tortured. Ultimately, he had to leave Pakistan and seek asylum in Sweden.
Sheikh has been closely watching the Kulbhushan Jadhav case and counsels that it will be premature to celebrate the ICJ order as there is a long road ahead for justice. Nor is there any merit in nurturing an atmosphere of outright confrontation between India and Pakistan. India must prepare for all eventualities including a war with Pakistan and must continue to deter Pakistan against any misadventures through a tit for tat approach, but people to people contacts at the non-political level must be nurtured. There is indeed little to gain from sabre-rattling.