Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan

Why are people surprised by the way Kulbhusan Jadhav’s mother, Avanti, and wife, Chetan, were treated in Pakistan? Wasn’t it obvious that the whole charade of compassion and humanitarianism was only to score a small point in preparation for the next hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague? I’m surprised that India is surprised!

This was the verdict passed by the International Court of Justice on the 18th of May 2017: “Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings.” I remember how well our Harish Salve did on that one!

Indians are apparently upset by:

  • the type of security check that the women had to go through
  • that they were made to change out of their nice clothes into something more suitable for use in Pakistan
  • they had to remove their mangalsutras and bindis
  • that Chetan’s shoes were stolen!
  • that they had to speak to Kulbhushan with a glass partition in between
  • that Kulbhushan’s mother was repeatedly interrupted with the instruction to speak to her son in English!
  • that they were harrassed by Pakistani journalists

All this was apparently done to intimidate the two women. I watched them on TV. What I saw was two strong women drinking in the sight of their beloved son and husband, not an iota of fear or intimidation on their countenances. These are Maharashtrians, descendants of people who stood up to both the Mughals and the British. They aren’t scared of anybody!

Regarding the above points:

  • Arsalan Bhatti, a Pakistani journalist, clarified on Indian television yesterday that he would have had to undergo exactly the same kind of security check if he had to enter the place. If this is true, fine.
  • Arsalan also said that the women changed their clothes of their own accord. Perhaps they did. Pakistani officials taking such a keen interest in what these ladies wore seems rather comical to me. Anyway, I’m sure Kulbhushan didn’t even notice what they wore, because he would have been overcome by a whole lot of mixed emotions in the circumstances.
  • I confess I’m mystified by the need to remove mangalsutra, bangles and bindi. Either it’s just garden-variety paranoia, or they are confused by women who aren’t completely invisible. Again, I doubt that either Kulbhushan or his mother or wife gave this much importance. This was too deeply emotional a meeting to worry about shringar.
  • Shoe-stealing is a common crime. Why do you think there are people posted outside our Taj Mahal to guard our shoes when we walk into the monument barefoot? This is probably a shared cultural issue, one of the things that make other countries hyphenate us as Indo-Pak.
  • The glass partition through which they had to see Kulbhushan was probably to discourage hand-holding, hugs and other forms of PDA. It could be a cultural thing in Pakistan. But seeing each other in the flesh, after seeing them only in their memories, must have made the glass unimportant and non-existant to them all.
  • Do Pakistani men speak to their mothers only in English? I guess it’s just an idiosyncrasy, or a colonial hangover. I have heard people in India address their moms as ‘Mother’ in English while speaking in their mother tongues. This is usually dismissed as a silly affectation.
  • The Pakistani press apparently harrassed the women. I suspect that the journalists were hoping to hear truth for a change. However, right after an emotionally charged meeting like that, the women were unlikely to have registered anything more than the noise level.

There’s one thing I want us to ask ourselves: Why don’t we believe Pakistanis when they say that they were being considerate and compassionate? Just because their ways don’t conform to our idea of what constitutes decent behaviour, it doesn’t mean that they are lying. Perhaps this is how compassion and consideration are expressed in Pakistani culture.

Different cultures have different standards. After the Brexit vote I remember being surprised by how quietly Cameron resigned and Teresa May took over. The English did not make a spectacle of themselves on the world stage and court disrespect and derision. This meeting between Kulbhushan and his wife and mother could have done with a little dignity. What a pity it had to be conducted in such a shoddy and cringeworthy manner by the Pakistani government, though, going by their protestations to the contrary, they are not even aware of having done so!

 

5 thoughts on “Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan

  1. He’s been brain washed. They have made him living dead. A very fine officer. Served with me for three years at Vizag. Total family man, happy go lucky type. Only God can save him. I pray for him & his family.

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