New Delhi: India on Monday warned Pakistan that executing its national Kulbhushan Jadhav, found guilty of “espionage and sabotage activities" by a secret Pakistani military court, would be tantamount to “premeditated murder".

Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, and issued a strongly-worded demarche in which he said that Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan had never been explained credibly.

The award of the death penalty by the Pakistani court on Monday comes four months after Sartaj Aziz, advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, told the Pakistan Senate in December that “the dossier" against Jadhav contained “mere statements" and no “conclusive evidence".

In an apparent retaliatory move, India on Monday decided not to release about a dozen Pakistani prisoners, who were to be repatriated on Wednesday.

“The government of India, through its high commission in Islamabad, has repeatedly sought consular access to him... Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017. This was not permitted by the Pakistani authorities," the Indian statement said.

“The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our high commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial. Senior Pakistani figures have themselves cast doubt about the adequacy of evidence. The claim in the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) release that Jadhav was provided with a defending officer during the so-called trial is clearly absurd in the circumstances," the statement said.

“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," it said.

The Indian comment came after Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, 46, for his alleged involvement in “espionage and sabotage activities" in restive Balochistan and Karachi, a PTI report said.

“The (Indian) spy was tried through field general court martial under the Pakistan Army Act and awarded the death sentence. Today chief of army staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed his death sentence," the statement from the ISPR said.

According to the ISPR statement, Jadhav, a commander in the Indian Navy, “confessed" that he was “tasked by (India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing) to plan, coordinate and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi".

Pakistan says its security forces had arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on 3 March last year after he reportedly entered from Iran.

It also says Jadhav is “a serving officer in the Indian Navy". India acknowledged that Jadhav had served in the navy but denied that he has any connection with the government. “The individual has no link with government since his premature retirement from the Indian Navy," the external affairs ministry said in a statement in March last year.

India had demanded consular access to Jadhav, but Pakistan repeatedly denied it. The ISPR statement, however, said Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel was “provided with a defending officer as per legal provisions".

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