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31 December, 2017 10:52:21 AM

Diplomacy at its best

Swaraj was by no standards mellow but she chose her words and even while decrying Pakistan did not cross the line
Kumkum Chadha
Diplomacy at its best

The fire was missing. The words were strong but delivered with caution. There was kind of an underplay even while stating bare facts that brought to the fore the violation of human dignity, insensitivity and ruthlessness of a neighbor who, by rule, is errant. This is the story of India and Pakistan wherein since freedom the two have lived in utter hatred and intolerance of each other; have spared no opportunity to spew venom and made no bones about their being sworn enemies. It has been a no holds barred situation where guns, bullets and blood is the norm.
Therefore, when India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rose to speak in Parliament on Pakistan’s conduct earlier this week, it was expected that she would come down heavily not only through the content but also the tone and tenor.
In any case when it comes to oratory, there are very few who can match Swaraj’s skills. She has mastered the craft and excels in delivering a blow that is lethal, particularly when it comes to Pakistan.
When she spoke at the UN General Assembly a few months ago, she tore into Pakistan calling it an “export factory for terror”. In a hard hitting speech, Swaraj said: “We (India) produced scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you produced. You have produced terrorists. Doctors save people from death; terrorists send them to death”.

In the strong attack that Swaraj unleashed from the international forum, she was unsparing to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi when she said that “champion of hypocrisy is preaching humanity from this podium. Look who is talking” she said amid thunderous applause.

Therefore, when she rose to speak in her own country’s Parliament, expectations were high. Give her track record, her mastery over content and words and more importantly Pakistan’s latest offensive, it was expected that Swaraj will come down heavily and make Pakistan run for cover. More so because for the last 48 hours, the country and every Indian worth his salt is seething with rage at Pakistan’s inhuman behavior and inflicting indignity on two Indians, first by opening a door and then slamming it shut on their face.

Two Indian women, a mother and a wife were subjected to humiliation at the hands of the Pakistan Government in violation of all norms of decency, dignity and civility. Pakistan had under pressure agreed to allow Kulbhushan Yadav to meet his mother and wife.

Kulbhushan Jadhav was awarded the death sentence by a Pakistani military court following his arrest on charges of espionage and subversive activities. India’s stand that  Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the Indian Navy, was refuted by Pakistan. It claimed to have arrested Jadhav from its restive Balochistan province.

India had approached the International Court of Justice or ICJ accusing Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention and conducting a "farcical trial" for convicting Kulbhushan Jadhav without a "shred of evidence".   

India’s decision to approach the ICJ followed Pakistan refusal to grant consular access to Jadhav.

The international court also stayed Jadhav’s execution  on India’s plea seeking provisional measures restraining the execution of Jadhav.  

It was a long haul but India stood its ground and without lowering its demand for consular access to Jadhav. After giving a go-by to repeated requests from India, Pakistan finally showed some signs of a climb down and gave permission to Jadhav to meet his mother and wife.

The meeting that Pakistan flagged as being on humanitarian grounds was anything but that. Even while Indians were crying foul at the treatment meted out to the two ladies who flew to Pakistan, Swaraj had this to say to Indian Parliament: “There was neither humanity nor goodwill. Pakistan should be condemned in the strongest words for this behavior… His mother, who wears only saris, was forced to wear a salwar Kameez,..His mother told me she told the Pakistani officials she had never removed the mangalsutra, the symbol of her marriage...but they said nothing doing.… Both of them were made to look like widows” Swaraj said.

Their shoes, she said, were taken away and not returned: “They keep saying there was a camera or chip or recorder in the shoes. The same shoes passed checks by two airlines - Air India and Emirates. As they enter Pakistan, they have chips?"

Jadhav who has interacted with his family for the first time since his arrest last year spoke to them across a glass screen, and through an intercom.

The women were not allowed to use their native Marathi language. When they did, they were repeatedly interrupted before the intercom was finally switched off, Swaraj said. The car that was to ferry them was deliberately delayed so that the Pakistan media could hurl abuses and level allegations at the two women.

Swaraj was by no standards mellow but she chose her words and even while decrying Pakistan did not cross the line. Those who are familiar with her oratory know she can tear people apart “without a drop of blood” as they say. She did take on Pakistan but let it hang on a slender thread. It was perhaps a diplomatic necessity and one that came with her office as Foreign Minister. Therefore, shrillness was not in order. In diplomacy, restraint is the rule and restraint is what Swaraj followed. She could have played to the gallery to score political points but she did not. Looming large is Jadhav’s safety and Swaraj seemed to have taken care that nothing endangers that.

However, the Indian media did what Swaraj did not. It went ballistic and channel after channel abused Pakistan. It was 24x7 Pakistan bashing and a no holds barred situation. Indians were enraged and they let out in choicest words before the camera. Decency and good behavior is not what Pakistan deserves or understands and therefore that is not what Pakistan will get from India be it the government, media or its people. What Pakistan did is unpardonable, unforgivable, deplorable and shameful.

Having said that, one has to take lessons in brevity from Swaraj. Her handling of the situation, even while she was boiling with rage, was exemplary. She measured her words and even while being visibly angry did not spew venom.

She shot arrows but did not poison the tip. This the Indian media needs to do because if it slips up on this count, Jadhav’s security could be jeopardized. Pakistan being what it is, cannot be trusted and can go to any lengths to avenge an insult. Therefore, till our man Jadhav is in their custody we must tread with caution even if it is against our will.

The writer is a senior Indian journalist, political commentator and columnist of The Independent. She can be reached at: (kumkum91@gmail.com)


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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