Despite India’s strong message to Pakistan over the death sentence to former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav on espionage charges, the course of action ahead for the condemned prisoner remains arduous.
Jadhav has legal recourses at his disposal. He can move the Supreme Court of Pakistan, appealing against the military court which handed him the death sentence.
If the Supreme Court upholds the sentence, Jadhav can seek Presidential pardon.
In Islamabad, Pakistani defence minister Khawaja Asif told the upper house of Parliament that Jadhav has the right to appeal against his death sentence within 60 days.
He also dismissed Indian concerns that proper legal process was not observed in the trial. “There was nothing in the [legal] proceedings that was against the law,” he said.
External affairs minister Suhsma Swaraj said the government will ensure that Jadhav is provided with the best of lawyers in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and will also take it up with the President of Pakistan.
However, in such cases it is not the legal measures that really work, but persuasive diplomacy.
Though there is little room for hope considering the bilateral ties between the two countries are at a new low, India will be using diplomatic channels and other means to seek his release.
India can also bring the matter before the United Nations and pile international pressure on Pakistan, making best use of its ties with many countries.
“Pakistan has violated every international rule by sentencing Kulbhushan Jadhav. The government should draw the attention of the international community, particularly the United Nations,” Congress MP and former Union minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor said.
“If anything, he is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism. Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to regard the sentence, if carried out, as an act of pre-meditated murder,” Sushma Swaraj told Rajya Sabha.