India should persuade the international community to pressurise Pakistan to hand us Masood Azhar

Written by: Nalini Ranjan Mohanty

Pakistani authorities handed over Wing Commander Abhinandan to us, but not Masood Azhar. If we do not get back Masood Azhar, all our chest-thumping over Balkot adventure would turn out to be mere hype, no substance.

Since noon today, a large section of patriotic Indians remained glued to their TVs to see Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman cross over to the Indian side from Pakistan at Wagah border. But that moment arrived after more than 9 hours. When it did, it was a gracious spectacle to watch. WG Varthaman was accompanied by a lady officer from Pakistan — she had come to the border to hand him over to the Indian officials!

Abhinandan’s return , no doubt, makes India heave a sigh of relief. But the fact is that the Abhinandan spectacle diverted India’s attention from its strategic objective — to eliminate terror-related violence.

Did the Indian air Force’s heroic act at Balkot, deep inside Pakistan, help us realise our strategic goal? The answer would be an emphatic ‘yes’ if Pakistan would have handed over Masood Azhar to Indian authorities. But it didn’t.

Is there a distinct possibility that Pakistan would do so in the near future, given the hype in our country that India has isolated Pakistan diplomatically worldwide? Just listen to the Pakistan foreign minister and you will get the answer. Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the world today, rather candidly, that Azhar was very much in Pakistan, but he could not be handed over to India till our country provided credible evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

This is exactly what Pakistan has been saying for years. India’s Balkot adventure has not changed the situation a wee bit.

Can India, with its new-found confidence, persuade the international community to pressurise Pakistan to hand Masood Azhar back to us (Remember, he was imprisoned in India for terrorist activities in 1994 but Vajpayee government tamely handed him over to Pakistanis in 1999. Can you imagine if this ‘anti-national’ decision would have been taken by a Congress government, what would have been the reaction of our hyper-patriots?)

Courtesy- Nalini Ranjan Mohanty

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