India warns Pakistan against executing spy
Pakistani politicians welcome sentence, saying it is in accordance with country’s law, India on Tuesday warned Pakistan of serious consequences for bilateral relations if Islamabad executes a retired Indian naval officer convicted of espionage and sabotage. In an unprecedented move, Pakistan’s Field General Court Martial (FGCM) handed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav the death sentence on April 10, 2017.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told agitated lawmakers in parliament that India would take up the issue with Pakistan at the highest level to ensure that justice is served for Jadhav. He was arrested by Pakistan last year and convicted by the military tribunal this week. Pakistan alleges Jadhav is an Indian intelligence official who aided and financed terrorist activities in the southwestern province of Balochistan and the port city of Karachi. Pakistani military officials described the capture of Jadhav as a major counter-intelligence victory. He was accused of running a clandestine terror network within the province and of participating in various activities meant to destabilise the country.
Swaraj dismissed Jadhav’s trial as a farce and said Pakistan had ignored 13 separate requests in the past year to be permitted to offer him consular services. “The government and people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms, law, justice and international relations,” she said.
Swaraj warned “the Pakistan government to consider the consequences for our bilateral relationship if they proceed on this matter.” Lawmakers from opposition Congress and other parties asked the government to put international pressure on Pakistan to free Jadhav and return him to India. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday slammed Pakistan for the death sentence on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, terming it an “assault” on international laws and conventions.
“What Pakistan is doing is not only an assault on India, it is an assault on international laws, international conventions that affect everybody. “There are certain countries that finance and arm the Pakistani military. Those countries must be told by us that if this can be done to an Indian today, it can be done to one of their nationals tomorrow,” Tharoor said in the Lok Sabha. “The extremely important thing for us is to uphold the principles. Thirteen times this gentleman was denied consular access, which is a basic right. “Geneva conventions have been violated by Pakistan … This is an extremely serious matter,” he added.
The Pakistani military also asserted that Jadhav confessed before a magistrate that he was assigned by India’s spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW, “to plan and organise espionage and sabotage activities” in Balochistan province and Karachi. Soon after Jadhav’s arrest, the Pakistani military had released a video in which Jadhav confessed to espionage. Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the army chief, confirmed the death sentence Monday, the military said.
India disputes Pakistan’s accusations, which has often been the case in the testy relations between the two estranged, nuclear-armed neighbours. India gave a starkly different version of Jadhav’s arrest and profession. Indian officials accused Pakistan of kidnapping Jadhav, whom they described as a former navy officer, and said that repeated efforts for access to Jadhav were denied. Jadhav is also known to spell his surname Yadav and, according to Pakistani officials, he used the alias Hussain Mubarak Patel.
India’s Foreign Ministry said the proceedings that led to the sentence against Jadhav “were farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him” and added that the Indian High Commission, its diplomatic mission in Pakistan, was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, however, defended the verdict saying, “The trial went on for three months. Jadhav was provided the chance to defend himself. But all charges leveled against him were found to be true.”
Khawaja Asif said, “If India takes the matter up internationally Pakistan will defend its decision. Kulbhushan’s sentence is a warning for anyone with anti-Pakistan sentiment. The justice system will come down on people working to sabotage Pakistan with full force.” Pakistani officials say that India’s furious reaction over death sentence announcement confirmed the importance of Jadhav’s in Indian intelligence circle. The Indian authorities further claimed that they had repeatedly sought consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan had, however, turned down India’s request seeking consular access to Jadhav last year due to his involvement in “subversive activities” in Pakistan.
Senior PPP leader and former minister Rehman Malik stated, “If the law has found Jadhav guilty then we have the right to sentence him to death and the sentence should be carried out. We should not back down to any pressure, Indian or international and make sure that the sentence is carried out.” Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti said: “Of course the decision sends out a powerful message, it warns people against challenging the writ of the state. I think RAW will now go on the back-foot once the decision is carried out.” Asad Umer, member of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said: “The whole nation will support the decision to hang Kulbhushan Jadhav, it is the right decision. However, the time is right to bring up the matter of Indian interference in the UN now so that a sustainable solution to the problem can be sought.”