Former Indian Navy officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav who was arrested last year by Pakistan authorities for alleged "espionage" and "sabotage" was today sentenced to death by a military court of Pakistan.
Responding to the sentence, India has said that if the death sentence is carried out, it would be a case of "premeditated murder." Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit. India has said the proceedings against Jadhav were "farcical" as there was no "credible evidence against him".
Announcing the death sentence, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) - Pakistan military's media wing said- said "the spy (Kulbhushan Jadhav) was tried through Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and awarded the death sentence. Today, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM."
Indicating that death sentence had caught New Delhi unawares, India said that it "was not even informed that Shri Jadhav was being brought to trial."
In the demarche handed to over Pakistan's High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, India said "senior Pakistani figures have themselves cast doubt about the adequacy of evidence. The claim in the ISPR release that Shri Jadhav was provided with a defending officer during the so-called trial is clearly absurd in the circumstances".
Pakistan claims that Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 allegedly from Balochistan's Mashkel area. There are, however, conflicting reports.
Jadhav was running small courier in Iran company after leaving the Indian Navy. India has consistently denied that Jadhav was associated with the security infrastructure after he quit the Navy in 2001. India claims that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran by Pakistan.
In the demarche issued to Pakistan today, New Delhi said "Shri Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly."
Repeated requests from India for consular access to Jadhav has been denied by Pakistan raising a doubt about Pakistan's claim. New Delhi today said there were as many as 13 formal requests -- made between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017 -- for consular access. The requests were rejected by Pakistan.
After a series of daring terror attacks last year, India-Pakistan relations have been cold. India has made clear that it will not engage Pakistan until the latter takes effective action against Pakistan based terror groups like the Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish e- Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) who have repeatedly struck in India. Experts feel the death sentence is a move to draw international attention to India-Pakistan relations.
"It appears to be deliberate move to put pressure on New Delhi and at the same time provoke the situation in the valley" former Ambassador K C Singh told Huffington Post, India.
The situation in the Jammu and Kashmir has been deteriorating. Besides, the continued terror attacks, India claims, Pakistan has also been supporting civil unrest in the valley.
Unlike USA and Russia, India and Pakistan are not known to have swapped prisoners who are accused to terror activities or spying. And, with India- Pakistan relations in a deep freeze, it is unlikely that diplomacy will work.
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