Is Pakistan using Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence to play victim?

Reports of the 'spy' story before the visit of a high-profile Iranian delegation don’t seem to be a coincidence.

 |  4-minute read |   11-04-2017
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On April 10, Pakistan announced that it is sentencing to death Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav. He was kidnapped inside Iran by Jaish ul Adl, the network of Pakistan-backed terrorists operating against Iran, and drug smugglers.

Jadhav was subsequently ferried over the border quickly and handed over to Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

My Baloch insurgent sources on the ground confirmed the news and shared more details about Jadhav's abduction.

The government of India, through its High Commission in Islamabad, has repeatedly sought consular access to him, as provided for by international law. Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between March 25, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

kulbhshan-passport-g_041117034343.jpg The kidnapping of Jadhav doesn’t really come as a surprise. Photo: Indiatoday.in

But they were not entertained by the Pakistani authorities. India’s ministry of foreign affairs, in its press release, stated: “If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the Government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder.”

Jadhav's abduction was executed just before the visit of Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif to Pakistan, in 2016, and it showed Islamabad’s uncalled-for desperation over the Chabahar port project.

Pakistani media had drummed up the story that Rouhani had discussions on the arrest of “an Indian spy” with former Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif — reports that were subsequently denied by the Iran president.

Such reports at the time the abduction was carried out, ahead of the visit of a high-profile Iranian delegation, don’t seem to be a coincidence.

In June 2016, Iran had foiled an attempt by the same terrorist group to bomb Chabahar.

Chabahar was also targeted in the recent past in a suicide bombing by Jundullah in 2010, soon after the execution of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi. Iran had often shelled its hideouts in Pakistan.

The kidnapping of Jadhav doesn’t really come as a surprise.

Multiple western countries are reported to be routing money to Pakistan to finance attacks in Iran, including an attempt targeted at its former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.

Jaish ul Adl is used in Iran the same way the Mujahideen was used against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Five Iranian soldiers were kidnapped and brought to Pakistan by Jaish-ul-Adl terrorists in 2014 and that incident had led to heightened tensions in Iran-Pakistan relations at the time.

2016 also saw the murder of a Baloch activist affiliated with Brahumdagh Bugti’s Baloch Republican Party (BRP) inside Iran.

BRP advocates for secession from Pakistan. Multiple attacks on members of the separatist Baloch National Movement have also taken place.

The Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran is a sparsely populated tribal area. It faces the drug menace and Tehran has a death penalty for drug trafficking. Opium is cultivated in Afghanistan by Pakistan-backed terrorist group Taliban, and the opium economy stands at a massive annual US $68 billion.

The revenue serves not only to fund Taliban’s fight against the Afghan government and the NATO troops, but is also part of a smart model followed by ISI, which doesn’t need to spend its own funds on Taliban.

In fact, Pakistan gains from it, not having to expend money on this proxy war.

The opium and processed opiates are smuggled from Taliban-held regions of Afghanistan to ports across Pakistan and Iran by ISI-linked drug smugglers and associated terrorists.

Across both the Iranian side and Pakistan-occupied Balochistan, Pakistan has cultivated powerful smugglers who also act as warlords.

In Pakistan’s Balochistan, it sponsors death squads run by them to kill pro-independence Balochis. In Iranian Balochistan, it uses them to attack the establishment as and when Pakistan is commanded by those funding it.

Islamabad is known to sponsor terror in not just India but also Afghanistan, Iran and China. Its networks run far abroad.

In such a milieu, is this an attempt by Pakistan to instead play victim ahead of the Moscow meet on Afghanistan on April 14?

Also read: 'RAW spy' Kulbhushan Jadhav gets death sentence: India-Pakistan 'war' breaks out on Twitter

Writer

Aveek Sen Aveek Sen @aveeksen

Independent researcher working on cyber security and geopolitics of India's neighborhood, focusing on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Bangladesh.

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