New Delhi, April 12
Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has said the trial of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death for “spying”, was carried out according to prescribed legal procedure, the Dawn has reported. On Monday, Pakistan said a military court sentenced Jadhav to death for allegedly spying and stoking violence in Balochistan, drawing an angry response from New Delhi which said it will be a “premeditated murder” if carried out. Jadhav was arrested in March last year in Balochistan and accused of being a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India denies the charges.
A statement by the Pakistani military’s publicity wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Jadhav was declared guilty of waging war against the country.
“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. Jadhav was tried according to the same procedure,” Dawn quoted as Musharraf saying during a discussion on popular Pakistani television network ARY TV.
“Jadhav opted for a civilian defence lawyer, which was provided to him, it is a misconception that there is no defence in court-martial cases. Consul access was denied to him as it was a case of espionage, it is standard practice. As for his options, according to military law Jadhav can appeal to an appellate bench or take the matter to the Supreme Court if that doesn’t work out, the last resort is a mercy plea to the president,” the former president added.
He further said Jadhav’s trial was not conducted in a hurry as “the accused had already given his statement and there were facts and figures available to him, so the trial took as long as it was expected to take.”
Musharraf said the relevant personnel in the government knew about the trial as well as the verdict before it was shared with the media. “There is also talk in Indian media that the civilian government (of Pakistan) did not know of the case, which is not true as the defence minister gave a statement on the matter as soon as the news came out,” Musharraf said. The ties between the neighbours are at their lowest in several years following a string of militant attacks on defence installations in India, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based groups.
Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit and handed over a demarche describing the court proceedings as “farcical” shortly after the Pakistani army issued the statement regarding Jadhav.
Dawn reported that Musharraf said India might try to “get even” with Pakistan for Jadhav’s death penalty. “International intelligence is a dirty game. Pakistan now needs to remain vigilant as they [India] might try to sabotage us by picking up some Pakistani and portray them as a ‘Pakistani spy’ and try to get back at us,” Musharraf, a former military ruler, said. He also said that Pakistan may face a backlash when the Indian government will raise the matter on international forums.
“One thing is certain that they [India] will create a hue and cry about it internationally, their media has already started to do that. And in the west, the death penalty is not looked at in a very favourable light so, of course, they are going to use that as a defence,” Musharraf said.
He also said the strain between India and Pakistan man deepen and that “there will be a sharp rise in tension between Pakistan and India”. “Their media has already started using their pet term ‘rogue army’. If they think our army is rogue, what is their army doing in Kashmir, have they forgotten what happened to Sikhs in their country? Pakistan has to stand fast against India’s accusations of the move being of ‘premeditated murder’,” Musharraf said.
New Delhi, April 12