Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that his country was peace loving but wasn’t oblivious to defending its sovereignty and protecting independence as tensions with India mounted over a death sentence to former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.
Sharif’s comments came on a day foreign minister Sushma Swaraj warned Pakistan that bilateral ties would be hurt if Jadhav – who was found guilty by a Pakistani army court of spying, espionage and waging war against the state – was hanged.
“We want a peaceful neighbourhood…shared prosperity rather than mutual suspicion…at the same time, despite our earnest desire for peaceful co-existence, we cannot remain oblivious to defending our sovereignty and protecting our independence,” Sharif told cadets at an air force academy, according to Geo TV.
Jadhav was arrested in March last year in the restive Balochistan province and accused of being a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent, who was fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India denies the charges.
“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav. This is an act of premeditated murder,” Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha, stressing that the Indian government will leave no stone unturned to save “Hindustan ka beta” Jadhav. Home minister Rajnath Singh also assured Parliament that all necessary steps would be taken to give Jadhav justice.