Days ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, Pakistan military on Thursday released a second “confessional video” featuring the retired Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a military court for “spying” in April this year.
Soon after the video’s release, an Indian news channel revealed details of Islamabad’s offer of an out-of-court settlement of the case made on June 13.
The timing of the release and the alleged offer are being seen as desperate moves by Pakistan to stop the US from acting against it when Modi and President Donald Trump meet early next week.
According to Pakistan’s military, Jadhav’s video, in which he “owns up” to subversive activities in Baluchistan, is part of a mercy petition filed by him with Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
India rubbished the video as a ploy by Pakistan to mislead judges examining the case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Lawyer Harish Salve, who is fighting Jadhav’s case, said it would have no impact. Meanwhile, Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani envoy to the US, said it was merely propaganda from the Inter State Intelligence.
During a public hearing of the case in May, the ICJ rejected Pakistan’s request to play an earlier “confessional video” by Jadhav. The court then stayed the execution of Jadhav until it pronounces a verdict on his case in August.
Pakistan’s out-of-court settlement offer, made before ICJ president Ronny Abraham, is intriguing. It may be a ploy from Islamabad to buy more time and to prevent being asked to produce Jadhav before the ICJ. The question is whether Jadhav is alive. If so, is he physically and mentally fit to face a court hearing?
An out-of-court-settlement may also be a trap set by Pakistan to prevent India from winning the case. If India agrees to the offer, it will give an impression that the country is admitting Jadhav’s guilt
That India’s has had 16 requests for consular access to Jadhav rejected raises doubts about his whereabouts and state of health. His family were denied visas to go and meet him.
In the second video, one can see marks of injury on Jadhav’s face. The right side of his face is never shown. Jadhav speaks as if he is using a teleprompter.
The ICJ has clearly said its interim order is binding on Pakistan and the country should not carry out Jadhav’s execution before its final ruling.
An out-of-court-settlement may also be a trap set by Pakistan to prevent India from winning the case. If India agrees to the offer, it will give an impression that the country is admitting Jadhav’s guilt. It will also prevent India from approaching the ICJ again once it is revealed that he has already been executed or has been tortured to the point of insanity.
India has not fallen into the trap set by Pakistan. Instead, it has decided to vigorously pursue the case at the ICJ.
Jadhav’s arrest is shrouded in mystery. Pakistan says he was arrested from Baluchistan for espionage activities on March 3 last year. India maintains he was kidnapped from Iran, where he was engaged in business after retiring from the Indian Navy.