Pakistan has sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer who was arrested by the country in 2016, to death after convicting him of conducting “subversive activities” for the Indian government. He was sentenced by a Pakistani military court.
Jadhav was reportedly arrested in a Pakistani counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan in March 2016. But there are still plenty of loose ends in the story leading up to this sentence.
1. Sartaj Aziz Said Insufficient Evidence Against Jadhav
In December 2016, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, was quoted as saying that the government was presented with “insufficient evidence” on Jadhav. He had said that the dossier received by the government had only statements and there was no conclusive evidence against him.
Predictably, soon after, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office issued a statement saying:
The Adviser had said that the investigations regarding the network of Kulbhushan Jadhav are ongoing and the dossier shall be completed upon conclusion of the investigation. There is irrefutable proof against Kulbhushan Jadhav who had also made a public confession in March this year.
2. Authenticity of Confession Video
So, about that public confession: Pakistan claims that Jadhav is a high-ranking spy or at least a very experienced one because that’s what makes this arrest special.
Why would a high-ranking spy make a willing confession about his espionage activities to an enemy state, especially when the two countries involved are India and Pakistan with their intractable hostilities?
The punishment for espionage is bound to be high – life imprisonment or death, as in this case. No high-ranking spy would be unaware of this fact.
The authenticity of the video has also been questioned by India. The Ministry of External Affairs said that the video had Jadhav making statements with no basis in fact. The MEA also said that the fact that he made statements of his own free will challenges credulity and indicates that he was tutored.
The editing in the video also raised doubts about how much of what Jadhav said could be taken at face value.
3. Indian Passport?
Coming back to the fact that Pakistan claims Jadhav is a high-ranking Indian spy; what experienced spy would be caught in a target country with his or her own nation’s passport? And that too, an Indian passport with a false Muslim name?
Why would an Indian spy go to Pakistan without Pakistani documentation? What experienced spy makes such a rookie mistake?
4. Was He Really Arrested in Balochistan?
There’s also no proof of Jadhav’s arrest having taken place in Balochistan.
The Indian government says that Jadhav could have been arrested because he accidentally strayed into Pakistani waters. Every year, both India and Pakistan arrest many civilians from both sides who accidentally cross the border or stray into the other’s territorial waters. As an ex-Navy man, perhaps Jadhav was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Where’s the evidence otherwise?
5. No Consular Access to Jadhav
India repeatedly asked for consular access to Jadhav but this was never granted. Consular access isn’t a far-fetched request. In fact, Pakistan claimed that India had granted it consular access to the Kashmiri teens who were arrested for ‘guiding the Uri attackers’. India later denied this, but Pakistan insisted that they had received this access.
6. Why Was the Trial Kept So Hush-Hush?
Finally, if there is as much evidence against Jadhav as Pakistan claims, then why was his trial a hush-hush military court affair?
A high-profile spying case that played out in a court of law and received plenty of media attention would have served two purposes. It would have scored some major points for the Nawaz Sharif government domestically while discrediting India internationally. Second, as more of this evidence became public, India’s claims that Jadhav isn’t a spy would be easily debunked.
So, as Jadhav now faces a death sentence, where are the answers to these questions, Pakistan?