New Delhi, Apr 13: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Wednesday defended the death sentence awarded to former Indian Navy official Kulbhushan Jadhav by the Pakistani Military court.
Jadhav was arrested on charges of spying against Pakistan and was tried before a Field General Court Martial. Basit said that Jadhav was given a ‘fair trial’ the details of which could not be brought into the public domain. However, the Indian government was aware of “what Pakistan is talking about”, reported Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn’.
Abdul Basit in an interview with ‘India Today’ on Wednesday said that Jadhav was not an ordinary person. He was a serving (Indian Navy) officer, and that was the reason for his trial by a military court, he added.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, in a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan's Mashkel area for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.
The charges he faced included spying for India, working against Pakistan’s integrity, sponsoring terrorism in the country and attempting to destabilise the state.
Defending the sentence to Jadhav, Basit said that Pakistan has arrested hundreds of operatives and foot soldiers on the basis of information provided by Jadhav ever since his arrest.
When asked why India was not allowed consular access to Jadhav despite regulations under international law, Basit said that consular access is not “automatic”, especially for matters that are “sensitive and related to security”.
“Consular access is not provided across the board, let us remember that,” he maintained.
“We must understand Commander Jadhav had been visiting Pakistan since 2003 on an original, genuine Indian passport under the fake name of Mubarak Hussain Patel. It is for you to tell us why he was travelling under a fake name with an original Indian passport,” the envoy said.
While drawing a parallel between Jadhav's trial and the trial of terrorist Ajmal Kassab — whom India indicted and hanged over the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Basit said: “My advice to you would be that please do not mix apples with oranges lest you draw convoluted conclusions.”
Basit further said that Pakistan first submitted a dossier on Jadhav to the United Nations Secretary-General in September 2016. “That was our initial dossier and we have been able to gather more evidence [since then],” he added.
“Now that Jadhav has been convicted, he would have the right to appeal. If his verdict is upheld by the appellate court, then he would ultimately have the right to a [mercy] petition,” the envoy confirmed, adding that Jadhav was provided a defence counsel and that his trial was conducted according to the relevant laws, the Pakistan Army Act of 1952, in the country.