Aditya Sinha: Hey Pakistan, size doesn't matter

Even coming from Pakistan, a land known for its fiction, the arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav seems indicative of ‘larger’ insecurities at play

Pakistan’s arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav and calling him an Indian spy made one thing clear: our neighbour has P-envy. You know: the thing Freud spoke of. Of course, it makes no anatomical sense that Bharat Mata should have something to occasion P-envy. Also, there is much for Pakistan to be proud of. Like its nuclear stockpile, which the US-based Arms Control Association in 2015 estimated at 120 warheads — exactly the same as India’s (though President Barack Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit on Friday did say it was Pakistan’s “mini-nukes”, ha ha, that could fall into terrorist hands). Or the women’s cricket team, which beat ours in the recent World T20 tournament. There are Pakistani television serials, to which the uberpatriotic TV broadcaster Zee has devoted an entire channel. And then there’s Pakistani literary fiction, which is superior to our boring and masturbatory literary fiction. No wonder our prime minister, Narendra Modi, doesn’t like reading books.

A still from the Pakistani video that shows arrested man Kulbhushan Yadav, who stands accused of being an Indian spy. Pic/AFPA still from the Pakistani video that shows arrested man Kulbhushan Yadav, who stands accused of being an Indian spy. Pic/AFP

Despite that, Pakistan suffers an inferiority complex, so much so that gone are the days when its first military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, declared that one Pakistani soldier equalled ten Indian soldiers. After a few hidings on the battlefield, Pakistani soldiers have a lot to be envious about, mano a mano. Just look at our own army chief: so confident is he that he thinks nothing of committing troops to the border — between Delhi and UP, that is — for the benefit of a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar jamboree. And our Godmen have a double ‘Sri’, like a double MA; in Pakistan, army-favoured religious leaders like Maulana Masood Azhar don’t even merit half a ‘Sri’. No wonder they have P-envy.

Thus Pakistan’s incessant attempts at one-upmanship. We’re reliably told that army chief General Raheel Sharif was planning to take a leaf out of Modi’s book and address a 20,000-strong non-resident Pakistani crowd at Madison Square Garden in New York. The corps commanders were tickled by the idea: what better way of signalling democratic legitimacy than to gather a throng of admirers who never even vote? Unfortunately, this idea was nixed by Mrs General Sharif as her husband suffers from stage-fright and his perspiration makes his hair dye run.

The army also considered attacking Bollywood for having their TV star Fawad Khan portray the gay son in the delightful Kapoor and Sons; after all, a gay-putra is against the very idea of family, religion and a military parade. The ISI nixed this idea, as it felt that Anupam Kher was an unpredictable rogue non-state actor, not unlike the Jaish-e-Mohd. So the corps commanders did the next best thing: they produced their own song-and-dance video, which in fact was a video confession of a smuggler they caught, an ex-Navy official named Kulbhushan Jadhav. We think he was probably smuggling contraband in his fishing trawler; Pakistan accused him of spying for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

The video confession, which you can see on YouTube, is as slick as the video of sedition at JNU. Our unconvinced mandarins call it “tutored”. The giveaway is probably that tape-loop of Jadhav’s laughter that repeatedly pops up in the video. After all, it is a well-established fact that spies have no sense of humour. Pakistan, though, has a magical sense of humour, blaming Jadhav for Karachi violence and Baloch separatism; it even accused him of a kamikaze plot, with his trawler, against the Gwadar port. The only thing Jadhav wasn’t blamed for was Pakistan’s men’s cricket loss (to India’s ‘bigger’ bats, I might subtly point out).

The video comes at a time when 26/11 accused David Headley has been singing, via satellite video, about the ISI’s sinister machinations; and at a time when Pakistan had no choice but to visit Pathankot, site of the New Year’s terror attack, to face the physical evidence. There is no terror attack to link Jadhav to — both Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Baloch activist Naela Quadri have rubbished Pakistani claims — and a non-magistrate video confession may not be legally admissible in most countries. But logic has never deterred the Pakistan army. Plus, there’s always the Indian media to rely upon for hallucinatory headlines like ‘They heard him speak Marathi’ (about how Pakistan caught Jadhav), which is as fact-based as ‘Chhota Rajan will never return to India’ (just before he did), and ‘Dawood to announce succession plan’ (which he still hasn’t).

My unsolicited advice to our neighbours: size doesn’t matter. If it did, the RSS wouldn’t be so obssessed by you. (Though it is true that the RSS has dropped its khakhi shorts for ‘longer’ pants, nay, trousers.) Forget this Mad Magazine Spy vs Spy stuff; you might as well take on Bollywood. Focus on your strengths, like your wonderful fiction. Who knows, you might get Narendra Modi to finally read a book.

Journalist and writer Aditya Sinha is the co-author of Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years. He tweets @autumnshade. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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