A Pakistani military court has sentenced a former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for espionage and sabotage in Pakistan. India has denied that Jadhav was a spy and has dismissed the Pakistan court’s proceedings as farcical. India has also said that if the death sentence were carried out, it would amount to premeditated murder. Repeated requests of India for consular access to Jadhav were denied by Pakistan. Pakistan’s version of events is very different from India’s claims. Pakistan has claimed that Kulbhushan Jadhav was responsible for espionage, sabotage and terrorism in Pakistan and that he had been tried according to the law of the land in a fully transparent manner while preserving his rights under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Pakistan has killed ‘alleged’ Indian spies earlier also. In 1999, an alleged Indian spy was hanged and in 2013, an Indian citizen in jail for sixteen years, convicted of sabotage and terrorism was killed by his fellow inmates even while efforts were on to bring him back to India.
Credibility of the ‘spy’ claim –
Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan has confirmed that Pakistan has abducted the former Indian naval officer from Iranian territory. This was also reiterated by the German Ambassador to Pakistan when he said that Taliban terrorist groups abducted Jadhav from Chabahar and sold it to Pakistan. Even the Government of Pakistan has confirmed that they have not apprehended Kulbhushan Jadhav from Pakistan. He was abducted from Chabahar (Iran) and possessed an Indian passport which may not be the case with an otherwise claimed ‘spy officer’. He was tried in Pakistan’s military court where the evidence was not presented and he was convicted on the basis of assumption and suspicion alone.
Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs Advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister issued an absurd statement in response to this issue in which he listed out instances of terrorism in which Jadhav was involved into. There was no evidence provided by Sartaj Aziz regarding Jadhav’s involvement in any of those instances and the timeline provided by Sartaj Aziz itself stands on illogical grounds – it claims that Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in early March 2016, the first confessional video of him was made on 25th March, First Information Report (FIR) was launched on 8th April and the interrogation was done on 2nd May 2016. Therefore, without any judicial proceedings, Jadhav was kept and tortured for two consecutive months. According to the statement, Pakistan approached India in January 2017 for ‘letter of assistance’ to find credible evidence against Jadhav, despite three proceedings of the trial being finished by November 2016. This shows that proceedings were being carried out without sufficient evidence before January 2017 in the military court of Pakistan. Hence, this timeline of events provided by Sartaj Aziz is prone to outright rejection by the world community as it opens up the debate of Pakistan being a ‘rogue state’.
The tale of ‘two identities’ –
Kulbhushan Jadhav was found possessing two passports, one of a ‘Hindu’ name Kulbhushan Jadhav and the other was a ‘Muslim’ name of ‘Mubarak Patel’. Hence, the question being asked here is why would an innocent man possess two passports with different names?
There is no evidence that Government of India provided Kulbhushan Jadhav with the second passport, as there is a possibility of Pakistan creating the second passport to solidify its claim of Jadhav being a ‘spy’. It is obvious that Indian intelligence agencies are not so unwise that they will provide their agents with an Indian passport to send them across to a hostile territory without a diplomatic immunity. Many terrorist modules that India has busted in its territory were found to be possessing fake Indian passports. This is one of the reasons, why Pakistani Government is not willing to provide India with a consular access to Jadhav as in that case, India may bust the claim of Jadhav possessing an original Indian passport.
Diplomatic options available to India –
The Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan has already requested Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary for the charge sheet and judgement against Jadhav. India has repeatedly (more than thirteen times) issued a demarche to Pakistan for providing a consular access of Jadhav to India. Hence, India has lost all the conventional diplomatic channels with the ‘rogue state of Pakistan’ in terms of seeking justice for the former Indian naval officer.
India cannot even seek the interference of ‘International Court of Justice’ because India does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICJ in matters relating to India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s objective is to carry out a propaganda by demonising an innocent Indian citizen as a ‘threat to the nation’ by diverting the issues of domestic failures to this constructed demonic figure.
There is a provision under the optional protocol to Vienna Convention on Consular relations concerning compulsory settlement of disputes. Both India and Pakistan are signatory to it in 1976 and 1977, respectively. This protocol has been used by various countries in the past when the death sentence has been awarded to their citizens by a foreign country. It is yet to be seen if India would be willing to explore the opportunities provided by this provision to secure the release of former Indian naval officer.
Prisoner-swap agreement on the cards?
There are talks about India having in its possession a retired Lieutenant Colonel of Pakistan Army, who went missing from Lumbini in Nepal. There is no evidence of this preposterous claim of Pakistan, either by the Government of Pakistan or by its army.
If Pakistan was wishing for a prisoner swap agreement, why did it publicise this case? There is still a possibility of a prisoner swap between India and Pakistan, but Pakistan would try to garner a high price from India by pushing for a resumption of talks on Kashmir which were hindered after Pakistan’s continuous proliferation of terrorism on Indian soil.
Doubtful intentions of Pakistan –
Pakistan may be deliberately creating tensions between India and itself to draw the attention of world community and sort out its unfulfilled objective of separation of Kashmir from India. But the whole world accepts that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism and it is fermenting and instigating terrorism in India for almost three decades now. To divert attention from its home-grown successful industries of terrorism, Pakistan makes a counter allegation that India is creating troubles for Pakistan in both Balochistan and Karachi, which is not accepted by any democratic and responsible country.
As a defender of human rights and democratic behaviour, India has pointed out Pakistan’s mishandling of Balochistan and Sindh issue whereby it has almost reached the level of wiping out its own population through military action. India does not believe in interfering in the internal matters of any sovereign nation and has kept this record high since ancient history. Pakistan wants to use Jadhav’s case to create a moral equivalence and demonise India in its objective to wipe out its own citizens of Balochistan and Sindh provinces who are seeking independence from Pakistan’s misrule.
India must deal with this situation in complete firmness that it holds currently and proceed with the time-tested notion of reciprocity in diplomacy.