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With Kulbhushan Jadhav’s Life In The Balance, What India And Pakistan Need To Do

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In the past few days, many news channels in India and Pakistan have been telecasting the news of a former Indian navy officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav. Kulbhushan was arrested on March 3, 2016, on charges of conducting various acts of espionage and terrorism, and also of inciting the rebels of Balochistan.

He was arrested at Balochistan, following an intelligence raid conducted by Pakistan Army. Later, India refuted the allegations, instead saying that he had been kidnapped from Iran, brought to Pakistan and then, false allegations were framed against him.

The news of RAW agents getting arrested in Pakistan is not at all new. Some Bollywood movies also use such a plot to depict the heroic and cowardly features of India and Pakistan, respectively. In the past years, Bollywood has made films on people like Sarabjit Singh (a biopic) and Ravindra Kaushik (the Salman Khan-starring “Ek Tha Tiger” was allegedly based on this).

The Pakistan government is being severely criticised for sentencing Kulbhushan to death. A recent video of Kulbhushan also surfaced, in which he admits to being a RAW agent and also allegedly speaks of his involvement in creating turmoil in Balochistan. It must be noted that the present-day status of Balochistan is similar to that of Kashmir. Since Pakistan has levelled accusations of inciting Balochistan rebel leaders, India is also similarly training its guns against Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Issues related to terrorism have always bothered Pakistan because their own intelligence bureau, the ISI, itself has been accused of grooming many terrorists. Even Osama Bin Laden was caught in the midst of military quarters in Abbottabad. Ajmal Kasab was also a Pakistan national who was trained and sent on a mission to attack Mumbai. Later on, he admitted to his crimes during an interrogation, and many of the calls and conversations he made were shared publicly, which was then brodcasted on several channels across India.

Even with the many proofs that the Indian government had at their disposal, it took nearly four years to execute Kasab. On the other hand, Kulbhushan Jadhav was convicted within an amazingly short time. Besides, he never got a chance to defend himself. Even Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz admitted that the dossier didn’t contain any ‘conclusive evidence’ of Kulbhushan’s ‘spying’ and ‘terrorist’ activities.

Despite these glaring inconsistencies, the Indian government claimed to not being given consular access to Kulbhushan. It also claimed that the alleged ‘video confession’ had been forcefully recorded to reveal India’s ‘involvement’ in such questionable activities. Furthermore, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf termed Kulbhushan to be a bigger terrorist than Kasab, and that Pakistan should not have appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

However, with its strong proofs and efficient claims, India was successful in putting the death order on hold at ICJ court. No matter what the status of both these countries is, their relations will never improve if particular remedies aren’t sought for. India and Pakistan can peacefully sign a water-sharing deal – but become enemies when it comes to border issues or terrorism issues. In fact, the Indian army has had to suffer a lot because of terrorist activities, allegedly initiated by Pakistan.

Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case has again sparked nationwide anti-Pakistan sentiments in India. Therefore, Pakistan should first strive to work out an honourable and amicable solution, instead of repeatedly trying to prove India’s involvement in helping Balochistan’s rebels.

Since the Pakistan government has denied any consular access to Kulbhushan many times, it’s actually a very relevant question whether India will be able to save Kulbhushan from being executed, at all. The shadow of Sarabjit Singh still looms large. After all, Sarbjit was murdered by jail inmates, after his release had been delayed.

Even though it is yet to be proved whether Kulbhushan was actually a spy or not, the sensation that has already been created in and by the media is a different matter, altogether. However, what remains to be seen yet is whether Pakistan honourably obeys ICJ’s order, or executes Kulbhushan, thereby justifying claims that it’s a ‘hostile’ nation, after all.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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