In a rare move, a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) on Monday handed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav the death sentence after trial for involvement in espionage and sabotage activities in Karachi and Balochistan.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, through a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan’s Mashkel area for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“The spy 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,” the military’s media wing said.
The accused had been provided with a defending officer as per legal provisions.
India terms it ‘premeditated murder’
India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit and handed over a demarche saying, “If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder.”
The India’s Ministry of External Affairs in its statement claimed that “the proceedings that led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him”.
The Indian authorities further claimed that they had repeatedly sought consular access to Jadhav. “Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between March 25, 2016, and March 31, 2017. This was not permitted by the Pakistani authorities,” reads the demarche.
Pakistan had, however, turned down India’s request seeking consular access to Jadhav last year due to his involvement in “subversive activities” in Pakistan.
Experts view the military’s announcement about Jadhav’s trial and prosecution as an unprecedented move, viewing it as a strong message to India as well as other foreign intelligence agencies.
Jadhav was tried by the FGCM under Section 59 of the PAA and Section 3 of the official Secret Act of 1923, the statement said.
Jadhav confessed before a magistrate and court that he was tasked by Indian spy agency Research and Analysis wing to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities seeking to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan through impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for the restoration of peace in Balochistan and Karachi, the ISPR said.
Jadhav’s earlier confessional statement was aired by then ISPR head Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, in which he admitted to involvement in terror activities in Balochistan and Karachi.
Terming the Indian spy’s arrest a ‘big achievement’, Bajwa said at the time that Jadhav was directly handled by the RAW chief, the Indian National Security Adviser and the RAW joint secretary.
“His goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with Gwadar port as a special target,” Bajwa had said, adding, “This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism… There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan.”
“If an intelligence or an armed forces officer of this rank is arrested in another country, it is a big achievement,” Bajwa had said, before going on to play a video of Jadhav confessing to Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) involvement in Balochistan separatist activities in Pakistan.
‘Can diplomacy work?’
Leading Indian journalist Suhasini Haidar raised the question of how the sentencing may affect Pak-India ties. “With India-Pakistan relations at their lowest, wonder if diplomacy can work. Even US-Russia were able to conduct spy swaps during cold war,” she said.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti speaking to DawnNews said he believes the decision is a good one. “There are foreign elements involved in terrorist activities in Balochistan,” he claimed. “I believe this is a good decision.”
Defence analyst Ikram Sehgal agreed with Bugti’s view, saying, “What happened today was correct. He [Jadhav] confessed his crime, he had people killed… After due process, his punishment should be carried out. They [India] will deny that he was not a spy, but he accepted that he was a spy. He gave full details in his confession of his networks as well.”
“Pakistan has sent a message that if somebody does such activities here, it will hand them severe punishment. Those operating against the state will face a similar fate,” Sehgal added.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Asad Umar also believes Jadhav’s sentencing is “a good decision”.
Pak-India tensions simmer
Today’s development comes at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India run high.
The past six months have seen a war of words between officials from the Indian and Pakistani governments.
Ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours worsened after India blamed Pakistan for an attack on an Indian military camp in Uri inside India-held Kashmir on Sept 18, 2016 where around 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
India alleged that Pakistan-backed terrorists were involved in the attack and initially claimed that weapons recovered from them bore Pakistani markings. However, this assertion was debunked by the Indian media itself, forcing the Indian DGMO to retract the claim.
Since then, frequent episodes of firing have been reported by the Pakistan military on the Line of Control. The escalation continued when India claimed it carried out “surgical strikes” across the control line on Sept 29, claims Pakistan rejected as baseless.
Certain sections of Indian media have reported prominently that Pakistan has sentenced a former Indian naval officer to death.
They also claimed that Jadhav possessing an Indian passport proves he is innocent as no “intelligence agency ever runs an agent in enemy territory with identity documents connecting him to the agency’s country”.
Following is the full text of his voluntarily confession shown at a press conference jointly addressed by Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervaiz Rashid and ISPR Director General Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa at the Press Information Department
“My name is Commander Kulbhushan Yadav and I am the serving officer of Indian Navy. I am from the cadre of engineering department of Indian Navy and my cover name was Hussein Mubarik Patel, which I had taken for doing some intelligence gathering for Indian agencies.
“I joined the National Defence Academy in 1987 and subsequently joined Indian Navy in Jan 1991 and subsequently served for the Indian Navy till around December 2001 when the Parliament attack occurred and that is when I started contributing my services towards gathering of information and intelligence within India.
“I live in the city of Mumbai in India. I am still the serving officer in the Indian Navy and will be due for retirement by 2022 as a commissioned officer in Indian Navy after having completed 14 years of service by 2002.
“I commenced intelligence operation in 2003 and established a small business in Chabahar in Iran as I was able to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004 and having done some basic assignments within India for RAW.
“I was picked up by RAW in 2013 end. Ever since I have been directing various activities in Balochistan and Karachi at the behest of RAW and deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi, I was basically the man for Mr Ani Kumar Gupta who is the joint secretary of RAW and his contacts in Pakistan especially in Balochistan Student Organisation.
“My purpose was to hold meetings with Baloch insurgents and carry out activities with their collaboration.
“These activities have been of criminal nature, leading to killing of or maiming of Pakistani citizens.
“I realise during this process that RAW is involved in some activities related to the Baloch liberation movement within Pakistan and the region around it.
“There are finances which are fed into the Baloch movement through various contacts or various ways and means into the Baloch liberation (movement) and various activities of the Baloch liberation and RAW handlers go towards activities which are criminal, which are anti-national, which can lead to maiming or killing of people within Pakistan and mostly these activities were centred around of what I have knowledge is of ports of Gwadar, Pasni Jewani and various other installations, which are around the coast damaging various other installations, which are in Balochistan.
“So the activity seems to be revolving and trying to create a criminal sort of mindset within the Baloch liberation which leads to instability within Pakistan. In my pursuit towards achieving the set targets by my handlers in RAW, I was trying to cross over into Pakistan from the Saravan border in Iran on March 3, 2016, and was apprehended by Pakistani authorities while on the Pakistani side and the main aim of this crossing over into Pakistan was to hold (a) meeting with Baloch separatists in Balochistan for carrying out various activities, which they were supposed to undertake and carrying backwards the messages which had to deliver to Indian agencies.
“The main issues regarding this were that they were planning to conduct some operations within the next immediate (near) future so that was to be discussed mainly and that was the main aim of trying to coming into Pakistan.
“So that moment I realised that my intelligence operations have been compromised on my being detained in Pakistan, I revealed that I am an Indian naval officer, and it is on mentioning that I am Indian naval officer, the total perception of the establishment of the Pakistani side changed and they treated me very honourably and they did utmost respect and due regards and have handled me subsequently on a more professional and proper courteous way and they have handled me in a way that befits that of an officer and once I realised that I have been compromised in my process of intelligence operations, I decided to just end the mess I have landed myself in and just wanted to subsequently move on and cooperate with the authorities in removing complications which I have landed myself and my family members into, and whatever I am stating just now, it is the truth and it is not under any duress or pressure. I am doing it totally out of my own desire to mention and come clean out of this entire process which I have gone through last 14 years.”
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