Islamabad, April 10 (Dawn): In a rare move, the Pakistani Field General Court Martial (FGCM) on Monday handed alleged Indian spy, Com. Kulbhushan Jadhav, the death sentence after trial for involvement in espionage and sabotage activities in Karachi and Balochistan.
India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit and issued 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,” Indian media reports said.
Jadhav, an Indian naval officer, 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. Jadhav allegedly confessed before the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize subversive activities in Karachi, Balochistan. Jadhav was provided a defending officer as per legal provisions
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.
In an earlier confessional statement was aired by then ISPR head Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, Jadhav 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.
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.”
Indians find loopholes in Pakistani claims
A forensic examination of the video conducted by India’s intelligence agencies shows that the ‘spy video’ has been heavily edited and the audio has been spliced in several places, reports Daily Mail India.
At different points, Kulbhushan’s facial expressions do not match what is being said in the voice over.
The question therefore rises that if Pakistan does have the genuine confession by an Indian agent then why has a heavily edited version of the video been put out instead of the original tape.
Pakistani media reported that Jadhav was picked up on March 3, whereas his arrest was announced only on March 24. India’s intelligence agencies say a three-week gap between Jadhav’s detention and arrest raises serious doubts about whether coercive, third degree techniques were used on Jadhav to extract a statement dictated by the Pakistani agencies.
One of the biggest loopholes in Pakistan’s allegations is the claim that Kulbhushan was carrying an Indian passport in the name of Mumbai resident Hussain Mubarak Patel.
India’s intelligence czars argue that no specially-trained field agent will be naïve enough to carry a passport which links him back to his native country if he is entering hostile territory.
If Jadhav was indeed a RAW agent, it would have been easier for him to carry Pakistani identity papers instead of running the risk of getting caught with an Indian passport.
Sources say that this claim by Pakistan is by itself proof that Jadhav was an Indian businessman, who was transacting bonafide business activities in Iran’s Chabahar rather than an undercover agent.
The Home Minister of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, Sarfaraz Bugti, first announced that Jadhav was picked up from Chaman.
But, in the Pakistan army’s press conference on Tuesday, the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations General Asim Bajwa, announced that Jadhav was picked up from Saravan.
Now Chaman is the eastern-most extremity of Balochistan and is near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, whereas Saravan is in the south-east of Zahidan and is near the Pakistan- Iran border.
Chaman is 873 kilometres from Saravan by road. This is a major inconsistency in the claim made by Pakistan’s agencies.
India’s intelligence agencies believe that the release of the ‘spy video’ is a consequence of the internal politics of Pakistan.
The Pakistan army is not happy with the peace overtures made by the Nawaz Sharif government and the arrest of an Indian national seems to be an attempt on the part of Pakistan’s military establishment to restrict Sharif’s ability to walk down the road of peace with Prime Minister Modi.
For the first time after the recent Pathankot attack, Pakistan’s civilian government admitted that the terrorists came from Pakistan. A Joint Investigation Team from Pakistan was sent to India to probe the terror attack.
Indian agencies believe that the ISI has been very unhappy with the concessions made by the civilian government and the ‘spy tape’ is an attempt to shrink the space for peace available to Sharif.
The assessment compiled by India’s intelligence agencies also suggests that the Pakistan army has been extremely wary of India’s involvement in the Chabahar port project in Iran.
India has so far helped conduct a feasibility study to develop the port area and has committed to helping Tehran develop the port in future.
Pakistan sees the Chabahar port as a direct threat to the ambitious Gwadar port project in Balochistan, which is being developed in close association with Beijing as part of the China-Pakistan economic corridor.
Indian agencies believe that Pakistan is trying to kill the Chabahar project by driving a wedge between Delhi and Tehran.
The Indian assessment ends by stating that the insurgency in Balocistan is deep rooted and enjoys widespread public support.
And it is foolhardy to think that an obscure Indian businessman in Iran can influence the course of events in Balochistan.
(The featured picture at the top shows the alleged spy Com.Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistani custody)