Jadhav's sentence to damage ties

The award of death sentence to former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court is against the principles of the Vienna convention and diplomatic norms and can further damage the bilateral relations between the two countries. As India has rightly told Pakistan, his hanging would be tantamount to premeditated murder because the basic norms of law and justice have not been observed in his trial and sentencing. Even his presence in Pakistan has not been properly explained and there are doubts that he was kidnapped by Pakistani agents from Chabahar in Iran where he was doing business. Whether he was a spy or not, his trial was opaque and shoddy. There are serious doubts about the working of Pakistan’s military courts and the quality of justice dispensed by them even in that country. Jadhav had no legal aid and there was no consular access, though India had requested Pakistan many times for it. The case against him rests on confessions and there does not seem to be any corroborative evidence. To award death sentence to an accused in such a situation is a travesty of justice. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Adviser Sartaj Aziz has himself said that there is insufficient evidence against Jadhav.

It is possible that Pakistan’s military is trying to create another crisis in India-Pakistan relations or preventing an easing of tensions between the two countries with this sentence. It is also seen as a tit-for-tat action after the disappearance of a former Pakistani army officer in Nepal in which Pakistan suspects an Indian hand. Pakistan may also be trying to tell the international community that India is interfering in its internal affairs, in response to India’s evidence on Islamabad’s promotion of terrorist activities in this side of the border. Whatever the reason, Pakistan’s handling of the matter will have a serious bearing on bilateral relations.  Countries do not execute spies, even if for the sake of argument it is accepted that Jadhav is a spy. The normal procedure is imprisonment or mutual exchange of spies.

India has told Pakistan that Jadhav’s execution will be an unfriendly act. All opposition parties and Parliament are with the government on the matter. The government should also bring it to the attention of the international community and raise the diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan has said that Jadhav has a chance to appeal. He needs to be tried again in a civilian court in a transparent manner if the case against him has to be convincing. Pakistan should show better sense in the handling of the matter than it has displayed so far.

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