Daily Times Editorials | July 18, 2020

Consular access to convicted spy

Following international norms and laws under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, Pakistan has provided a consular access to convicted Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. This is a second counselor access to Indian naval commander Jadhav in 10 months. Besides the counselor access, Pakistan has granted a meeting session to the mother and wife and wife of Jadhav in 2017. According to a Foreign Office statement, “Two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav at 1500 hours”. Despite the flurry of meetings going on, the Indian side is mum on filing a review petition against their spy’s conviction, the concession offered by Pakistan through an ordinance promulgated on May 20. Earlier, Jadhav has refused to benefit from the legislation. Since his arrest on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan, Jadhav has been given an opportunity to defend himself in a court of law despite his confession of carrying out RAW-funded terror activities in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan. Indian refusal to take benefit from the ordinance will only harm its serving navy commander as the foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that “Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement of July 17, 2019. It is hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement”.

It is race against time as the review petition offer does not stand for ever. The time bound offer will lapse in two months – July 20. The Indian side has a chance to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against their spy’s conviction and avail an open trial chance. Perhaps, India is reluctant to fight the case in an open court because Pakistan has undeniable proof of RAW’s terrorism in Pakistan and the trial is going to unmask the inferior designs of Delhi against its neighbours. Indian stubbornness is against the spirit of the ICJ decision too. Over the years, the incumbent regime in Delhi has shown its tendency to instigate extremism and trample human rights or the law. This attitude has brought the country to standoff with China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka too. Besides border-related skirmishes with its neighbours, India once tried to breach Pakistan’s airspace and lost its birds. In one instance, its pilot was captured by Pakistan, though released within days as a goodwill gesture. But those gestures do not occur every day in the matters of war and love; so, India had better file the review petition or be ready to face the consequences of the conviction handed down to Jadhav through the Field General Court Martial under the Pakistan Army Act.


Pakistan-US move towards child safety

Losing a child to the angel of death or to a gang of kidnappers is the wound parents never forget in their lives. Pakistan loses hundreds of children to kidnappers every year. Child kidnapping is an international issue. As per the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) figures, 800,000 children go missing each year, which is more than 2,000 a day. Not only gangs, family members and pedophiles are behind kidnappings and the NCMEC says that 203,000 children are kidnapped each year by family members. It is, however, heartening to see that the government has taken a set of measures for children safety since the issue of kidnap-rape-murder of minor Zainab Ansari came to the light in Kasur in 2018. In this regard, legislation was made, mobile applications were developed and an awareness campaign regarding missing children was launched. Now, the government has gone international, by engaging foreign governments to make children’s safety supreme. Recently, Pakistan signed a legal framework with the United States to check international child abduction, according to a statement by the US State Department. According to the statement “International parental child abduction is the removal or retention of a child outside their country of habitual residence in breach of another parent or guardian’s custody rights. The UN and human rights organisations regard this as child abuse and an extreme form of parental alienation”.

Pakistan approached the US for accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a multilateral treaty that provides a framework for the quick return of children who have been wrongfully removed or kept away from their home country. The convention, which has 98 members, will be effective on October 1, and will put in place an internationally recognised legal framework to resolve cases of parental child abduction between the two countries. On the domestic front, the government has legislated the Zainab Alert Bill, which is applicable to the federal capital. Provinces have also done their valuable work in this regard. Recently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan unveiled the “Mera Bacha Alert”, a mobile App which helps people and public departments to trace and rescue missing children in the province. The App helps the parents to alert the police if their child goes missing. The missing child’s credentials such as picture, address can be uploaded. Similar Apps and alerts have been launched in other provinces too. These measures can bear fruit only if kidnappers are busted and punished in timely manners.

Disclaimer: Published in Daily Times, July 18, 2020

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