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Did Pak catch world attention with ‘Indian spy’ story? Perhaps not

india Updated: Apr 01, 2016 10:58 IST
HT Correspondent

Pakistani Lt Gen Asim Bajwa (L) speaks with the media as he gives details of an arrested man, Kulbhushan Yadav (R on screen), who Islamabad says is an Indian spy. (AFP)

Pakistan on Thursday said it had apprised the European Union and the world’s major capitals about an alleged Indian spy’s arrest from Balochistan, but did the whole world really take notice of the saga?

Probably not, if one goes by global media reports on the matter. Very few large media outlets reported about Kulbhushan Jhadav – the man at the centre of the storm – and most of the reports were sceptical of Pakistan’s claims.

Islamabad has gone to town with the tale of Jhadav even though New Delhi has dismissed the charge that he was an operative of RAW. India has acknowledged that he is a former naval officer and reports have suggested he was running a business in Iran.

Read more: India rejects Pakistan’s video confession: ‘Spy saga’ decoded

Apparently cashing in on a so-called “confession video” of Jhadav, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said on Thursday: “The whole world saw the Indian agent’s confessional statement.”

Read more: Pakistan writes to Iran for help in probing ‘Indian spy’ case

In its report, The New York Times said: “The timing of the release of the video on Tuesday was notable. It came on the same day that a Pakistani team of investigators was visiting Pathankot in India, the site of a terrorist attack in January that India says was the work of gunmen from Pakistan.”

The BBC report mainly gave New Delhi’s side of the story, saying, “India has rejected Pakistan’s claims that it has arrested an ‘Indian spy’ in the restive Balochistan province.”

The Washington Post mentioned the issue at the fag end of a report on India’s invitation to Pakistani investigators to help in the Pathankot probe.

It said: “Yet despite the spirit of cooperation, the Pakistani military released a video in Islamabad on Tuesday of an Indian naval officer arrested at the border last month who is purported to be an Indian spy. In the video, the officer, Kulbhushan (Jhadav), said he had supported the separatist movement in Balochistan in criminal activities that would ‘lead to instability within Pakistan’. The Indian government rejected the video as having ‘no basis in fact’.”

The Guardian included the spy story in a report that mainly focused on the suicide attack at a park in Lahore that killed more than 30 people over the weekend.

It said: “The unveiling of an alleged spy could set back regional diplomacy at a time of unusually close cooperation between Islamabad and Delhi…The disclosure also distracted attention from a crisis in Islamabad where several hundred Islamist protesters have been camped near the parliament building after storming into the city on Sunday to protest against the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri in February.”

Pakistani officials claimed Jhadav was arrested near the Iranian border. But a report in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper on Thursday said the Iranian embassy in Islamabad had slammed “certain elements in Pakistan” for spreading “undignified and offensive” remarks, which it said were attributed to President Hassan Rouhani, regarding the arrest of Jadhav.

“Elements unhappy over promotion of ties between the two Islamic countries of Iran and Pakistan are trying in various ways, including the spreading of undignified and sometimes offensive contents, to fade out the significant achievements during the visit of President Rouhani to Pakistan,” embassy spokesman Abbas Badrifar said, according to the report.

According to reports, Rouhani himself was dismissive of Pakistani claims.

“I have heard this more than 20 times. Whenever we become close to Pakistan such rumours come up. We have brotherly relations with Pakistan. We also have a good relationship with India, thus there is no problem,” he reportedly told a news conference in Islamabad.