Kulbhushan Jadhav can appeal against his death sentence, but only to Pak Army Chief
11 Apr 2017
Pakistan defence minister Khwaja Asif today said Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Naval officer who is in a death row in Pakistan over alleged spying activities, can appeal against his death sentence to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa within 60 days.
Making a statement in Pakistan's Parliament, Asif said the Army Chief was the last recourse for Jadhav, meaning that it would be near impossible for him to get a reprieve.
India, meanwhile, said it will go "out of the way" to ensure justice to Jadhav and warned Pakistan that his execution will have consequences on bilateral ties.
To this, Asif only repeated Pakistan's usual rant on Kashmir. "We haven't done anything wrong. Premeditated murder is happening in Kashmir and Gujarat."
In India, both houses of parliament took up the issue of death sentence awarded to Jadhav by a Pakistani military court after declaring him a 'spy', and all parties condemned the development and pressed the government to take every effort to save him.
The Pakistani move is seen as an attempt to defame India and to deflect the attention of the international community from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement in both the Houses, asserting that India will go "out of way" to ensure justice to Jadhav who is an "innocent kidnapped Indian".
Jadhav's execution will be taken by India as a "pre-meditated murder" and Pakistan should consider its consequences on bilateral relations, if it proceeds on this matter, Swaraj warned.
She said the charges against Jadhav, who was doing business in Iran and was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan, are "concocted" and the trial against him was "farcical", leading to an "indefensible verdict".
"Let me state clearly that the government and the people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations," she said.
"There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Jadhav. 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.
Pakistan, she pointed out, had even sought India's assistance to obtain evidence for its false investigation to level ridiculous charges against senior Indian officials who had no connection to this issue.
Pakistan also linked providing consular access to India's acceptance of its position and Indian response was constructive in in the hope that some forward movement could be made, Swaraj said.
"We pointed out that consular access to Jadhav would be an essential pre-requisite in order to verify the facts and understand the circumstances of his presence in Pakistan.
"Given this exchange, it is extraordinary that yesterday, a decision is suddenly announced awarding a death sentence in this case when previous exchanges with India itself underlines the insufficiency of evidence," she said.
"To make matters even more absurd, three hours after the death sentence was announced, the Indian High Commission received an official communication from the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, reiterating the Pakistani proposal for conditional consular access.
"That tells us a lot about the farcical nature of the alleged proceedings which have led to an indefensible verdict against an innocent kidnapped Indian," she asserted.
Earlier in the Lok Sabha, home minister Rajnath Singh said the government will do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav.