New Delhi: Describing the trial of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a secret Pakistani military court as “absurd" and the charges against him as “concocted", Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday warned Islamabad that Jadhav’s execution will have consequences for ties between the two countries.
Swaraj, in a statement to the Rajya Sabha, said Jadhav was “doing business in Iran and was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan" last year.
“Our position on this matter is clear. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Shri 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. Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to regard the sentence, if carried out, as an act of premeditated murder," Swaraj said.
“I would caution the Pakistan government to consider the consequences for our bilateral relationship if they proceed on this matter," she later added.
Her strong words were echoed by home minister Rajnath Singh who condemned the verdict, telling the Lok Sabha that Pakistan had ignored “all norms of law and justice". He assured the House that the government would do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav.
Earlier, when the House met for the day, members cutting across party lines slammed Pakistan for awarding the death sentence to Jadhav, PTI reported.
Jadhav was found guilty of “espionage and sabotage activities" by a secret Pakistani military court and awarded the death sentence on Monday. Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar had summoned the Pakistan high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, and lodged a strongly worded protest on the matter.
The award of the death penalty to Jadhav by the Pakistani military court only worsens tensions between the two neighbours, already running high after a spate of terrorist attacks on Indian military installations last year. Dialogue between the two countries has been at a standstill since 2013.
Swaraj’s statement comes as Pakistani TV stations and newspapers reported the mysterious disappearance of retired Pakistan army Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Habib Zahir who was in Nepal reportedly looking for a job.
Zahir left for Nepal on 5 April and the next day reached the country’s capital, Kathmandu. Thereafter he went to Lumbini, which is about 6km from the Indian border, Geo TV news channel’s website reported. His family has not heard from him since 6 April, the report said. “We suspect that my father has been abducted and enemy spy agencies might be responsible for it," Saad Habib, Zahir’s son was cited as saying. The word “enemy" is often used for India in Pakistani security circles.
In her statement, Swaraj said Pakistan had denied Indian high commission officials in Islamabad permission to meet Jadhav after he was accused of espionage—a well established diplomatic practice.
“That itself should tell us much about the strength of the case against Jadhav," she said, adding that “a senior Pakistani leader has himself expressed doubts about the adequacy of evidence in this case." The reference was to Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stating in December that Pakistan did not have evidence against Jadhav.