Pakistan’s Army General, Qamar Javed Bajwa, has confirmed the death sentence awarded to alleged Indian ‘spy’, Kulbhushan Jadhav, on Monday (April 10, 2017). This speedy decision was officially declared via a press statement by the Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR), which is the publicity wing of Pakistan’s military force.
Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer, was arrested in the restive province of Balochistan on March 3, 2016. He was accused of being involved with the Balochistan separatists (and their activities) as an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He was later detained in Paksitan under charges of espionage and sabotage, which proved to be the prelude to his death sentence.
In 2016, the Pakistani army had released a ‘video confession‘ of Jadhav. In the video, Jadhav allegedly said that he arrived in Iran in 2003 and had started a small business in Chahbahar. However, India questioned the authenticity of the video and rejected it.
The Indian government has repeatedly rejected the charges on Jadhav and has also questioned his arrest. In the wake of this death sentence, India summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, and issued a demarche, condemning the act as ‘farcical’. The demarche also stated: “If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the governement and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder.”
India has always maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and had no link with Balochistan separatists (which Pakistan accused Jadhav of). Islamabad also repeatedly rejected India’s request to have access to Jadhav, who had allegedly possessed an Iranian residency permit and a passport in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. Apparently, the address given in the passport was that of Sangli, Maharashtra.
Some senior Pakistani journalists and leaders have also come to know that the Indian national was allegedly framed by the Pakistani army. They are also of the opinion that he hasn’t been given sufficient chances to defend himself.
The human rights watchdog Amnesty International has also condemned the death sentence given to Jadhav. It has stated: “Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about the charges or evidence against suspects is made public.”
On the other hand, Pakistan’s defence minister, Khawaja Asif, has said that the death sentence should serve as a ‘warning’ to those ‘plotting against‘ Pakistan.
In 2013, Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who was also sentenced to death for similar charges, was killed inside Lahore’s Lakhpat Jail in a cold-blooded attack by jail inmates.
Six months after India’s ‘surgical strike’, Pakistan again proved that no number of diplomatic talks can release the tension between the two countries. In the current scenario, bilateral talks between India and Pakistan seem to be a dream rather than a reality.
Pakistan has been continuously accusing India for fueling violence in Balochistan without evidence. Moreover, despite the fact that India had submitted dossiers on the Pathankot and Uri attacks, which apparently contained sufficient evidence of Pakistani involvement in the attacks, Pakistan was unmoved and remained inactive for months.
Now this impulsive action by Pakistan’s army court may well worsen the diplomatic relations between the two nations.
According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, spies are legally entitled a fair trial and a chance to defend themselves. In this particular case, it doesn’t seem as though Kulbhushan Jadhav was granted any of his rights under the Vienna Convention.
The repeated and alleged human rights violations by Pakistan should be monitored closely. International organisations like United Nations and other human rights organisation must intervene in this matter.
Regarding this case, it would be unfair for India if it has to accept the death penalty given by Pakistan, allegedly only on the basis of video evidence, the credibility of which has already been questioned. After all, one doesn’t need to be reminded that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging was termed ‘a judicial murder‘ by Pakistan’s judiciary!
With this move of Pakistan, the tensions between the two nations are bound to rise again.