We won’t bow to Indian pressure for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s release, says Pakistan minister
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We won’t bow to Indian pressure for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s release, says Pakistan minister

Federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry says no law was broken or changed to arrest or sentence Jadhav.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2017 19:19 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad and Jayanth Jacob
Imtiaz Ahmad and Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, Islamabad/New Delhi
Kulbhushan Jadhav,death sentence to Indian naval officer,Nawas Sharif
Members of Bharatiya Janata Party Minority Morcha burn a Pakistani flag during a protest against the conviction of a retired Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, in Mumbai on Wednesday.(AP)

Pakistan’s top officials toughened on Wednesday their stand on the death sentence for an Indian national accused of espionage, saying his trial was fair and that Islamabad wouldn’t bow to pressure from New Delhi.

Abdul Basit, Islamabad’s top envoy to New Delhi, said Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian naval officer, was tried in a military court because he was not a civilian, a treatment that was given also to Pakistani citizens accused of similar crimes.

Basit’s explanation was in response to India’s questioning of the fairness of Jadhav’s court-martial in utter secrecy – a trial that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj called “farcical”. India denies the charges against 46-year-old Jadhav, who was sentenced for “espionage and sabotage activities” on Monday.

“The charges against Jadhav were such that he could not be tried in a civil court… and he was also provided defence counsel,” Basit said in an interview with India Today TV, adding Jadhav had been visiting Pakistan since 2003 using an original Indian passport but a fake name.

The Pakistani envoy said 270 people, including Pakistanis, were tried in these courts that deal with terrorism-related cases.

Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf echoed Basit.

“For anyone involved in espionage and sabotage, the case is tried in military court, a lawyer is assigned to defend the accused and the procedure is the same for Pakistanis as well as foreigners,” he was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s ARY TV.

Meanwhile, Indian officials said the government was working on possible legal steps to save Jadhav. It was also considering more measures to put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, and seek consular access to the condemned man.

India and Pakistan routinely accuse each other of sending spies into their countries and it is not uncommon for either to expel diplomats accused of espionage, particularly at times of high tension. However death sentences have rarely been passed in such cases in recent years, and trials of alleged spies have largely gone through civilian courts.

As New Delhi stepped up its offensive over the death sentence, the Nawaz Sharif government deployed senior ministers to defend the action.

Pakistan’s minister of state for information Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters the country will not bow to pressure from India to release Jadhav. Federal minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry also said no law was broken or changed to arrest or sentence Jadhav.

Earlier in the day, local media reported that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also agreed not to bow to any pressure over the death sentence to Jadhav.

Samaa TV quoted an official source as saying that the Army chief called on Sharif “and took him into confidence regarding ... Jadhav.”

But in a somewhat tempered message of hope, Pakistan’s national security adviser Nasser Janjua spoke of the need for India and Pakistan to engage to resolve disputes.

“Pakistan and India cannot remain enemies forever,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

After repeatedly turning down India’s request, Pakistan foreign office made a conditional offer that New Delhi will have to investigate the “evidence” against Jadhav.

India hasn’t accepted the condition as that would tantamount to accepting that Jadhav is guilty.

First Published: Apr 12, 2017 19:43 IST