Modi in meeting with Trump should link Kulbhushan Jadhav case to Otto Warmbrier brutality

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures while disembarking from his plane after arriving at Ottawa International Airport, Canada, in this April 14, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/Files

NEW YORK: In his meeting with President Donald Trump, scheduled for June 26, in Washington, DC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should link the festering case of Kulbhushan Jadhav and Pakistan’s murderous intentions, with the brutal treatment of Otto Warmbrier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student.

Warmbrier was imprisoned by North Korea last year, in April, on vague charges of ‘state hostility’. He was finally released earlier this week, in a shocking physical state, however, that has devastated his family and the community of Wyoming, Ohio, where he’s from.

Warmbrier, who had gone as a joyous traveler on a tour of North Korea, is now likely to be bedridden and in a state of wakeful coma, for the rest of his life.

Doctors in the US, upon his return, have discovered that he’s suffered “extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of his brain” most likely caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest” and that “he shows no signs of understanding language, responding to verbal commands or awareness of his surroundings.”

No doubt, Warmbrier has been mercilessly tortured, beyond belief, by North Korea. His family and others close to him will live in anguish for the rest of their lives, with no recourse for justice. Many innocent lives have been destroyed by an insane, barbaric act.

Jadhav’s case is not much different from that of Warmbrier.

The former Indian Navy officer was arrested from Balochistan by Pakistan, last year, in March, for “involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan”, without any evidence to support the charges. Jadhav was later sentenced to death. The case is now pending before the International Court of Justice, after an appeal by India.

It’s likely that even if Jadhav comes out alive from Pakistan, he may likely be in a vegetative state like Warmbrier, to ‘prevent’ him from talking about his ordeal in prison.

Trump may not be an expert on foreign policy issues, but like everybody else in America, who now hate North Korea more than ever before, the president can understand the pain that comes from unwarranted brutality targeting innocent people, like Warmbrier and Jadhav, by countries like North Korea and Pakistan.

America is also perpetually on the edge with the threat of terror hovering on an hourly basis, just like India is too. Both America and India have been targeted by terrorists exported by Pakistan.

Modi will quickly bond with Trump on the issue of terrorism. It’s likely that the two leaders will also come with a joint pledge to prevent acts of terror, including cross-border terrorism.

Modi has blasted Pakistan for the attack in Uri, and has made it a point to discuss the issue with world leaders he meets. No doubt, that issue, as well as Pakistan’s insidious means to foment trouble in Kashmir and other border areas, will also figure prominently in the talks.

If Modi can link the Jadhav and Warmbrier cases, Trump will, no doubt, take the side of India, and condemn Pakistan’s act, even if it’s in private talks between the two. That would be a huge victory for India.

And, significantly, when Trump meets the prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, some day, it’s likely he will broach the subject of terrorism himself, in his inimitable style. The US now well and truly understand that terrorism emanating thousands of miles away can come to haunt one’s own shores the next day.

Trump bonded with Indian Americans, especially Hindus, before the presidential elections, after his talks with some members of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC). The RHC have made no bones of the fact they condemn radical Islamic terrorism, a subject Trump clearly also agreed with then, and does so vehemently even now.

Though he’s lambasted India on the Paris Climate Accord, Trump’s past business dealings in India and the fact that he’s taken many Indian Americans for top jobs in his administration, is an indication that he favors India and Indians.

Though Modi and Trump will hit it off right away, it’s the tricky subject of immigration that could prove to be a hard one to negotiate.

However, to Modi’s benefit, the timing of the visit couldn’t be better. The US economy is in top shape, with terrific growth on the job front. Attrition is increasing, and businesses are finding it hard to get quality workers.

While Trump realizes the need to boost manufacturing in the country, satisfy his base of middle class blue collar workers, he may not be averse to the idea of letting in more, or at least, keep the current levels of skilled foreign workers to take jobs in the US, as long it’s conforms to immigration laws and not replace American workers.

On the business front, the US will be looking for more defence deals with India. It’s the one area that India should welcome Trump with open arms, and create a deep bond with him and his administration.

If Trump can claim on the lawns of the White House, standing alongside Modi, that he’s just signed business deals with India that will bring billions in revenue and create jobs for Americans, consider not just him, but India to be the winners too.

Expect a great outcome from the meeting and talks Modi has with Trump, next week.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)  




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