Discussion event on Indo-Pak relations was planned weeks back, clarifies organizer

New Delhi [India], Apr.11 (ANI): Amidst the furore over the death sentence awarded to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav by the Pakistan military court, a discussion on 'Improving Indo-Pak Relations,' which was to be inaugurated by former foreign minister of Pakistan Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, has been under the scanner as questions were raised over the timing of the event.

Speaking with ANI, the organiser of the event, O.P. Shah, defended the program stating that the event was scheduled well in advance.

"Till now, no one has expressed the sentiment that this program should be cancelled. I would say that a program like this should be organised again and again," O.P. Shah said.

"Program was scheduled weeks back; such Programs needed as Indo-Pak relations aren't good currently. Till now, no one has expressed the sentiment that this program should be cancelled. I would say that a program like this should be organised again and again," he added.

The invitees include former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyyar, PDP MP Muzzaffar Beg, CPM MP Mohd Salim and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, among others.

Earlier in the day, slamming the Pakistan military court, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj issued a stern warning to Pakistan, saying that Islamabad should be wary of taking such an extreme step as it could result in damaging the bilateral relations between the already hostile neighbours.

"It is an indefensible verdict against an innocent Indian citizen. We have no option but to deem the sentence a premeditated murder. Our position is very clear, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav. I would caution Pakistan government to consider the consequences for our bilateral relationship if they proceed on this matter," said Swaraj in Rajya Sabha.

"Yesterday, Foreign Secretary conveyed our position to the High Commissioner of Pakistan. Let me state clearly that the Government and people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations," she added.

Swaraj further said, "I would also like to tell the House that I have been in touch with the parents of Jadhav and we are extending our fullest support to them in this difficult situation. A strong sense of solidarity expressed by the House will give them more courage at this time."

Both Houses of the Parliament were stalled over the sentencing of Jadhav.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured Lok Sabha MPs that the Centre will do everything possible to save Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Speaking in Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh said, ''The government of India strongly condemns Pakistan's move to send Kulbhushan Jadhav to gallows on false charges of being a spy.''

Jadhav was arrested in March last year "for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan," according to a statement released by the Pakistan armed forces.

The statement said Jadhav confessed that he was tasked by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), to "plan, coordinate and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan."

A military court found Jadhav guilty on two counts of espionage and sentenced him to death.

India has strongly objected to the sentencing, saying consular officials were denied access to Jadhav during his trial.

The Ministry of External Affairs later summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and issued a demarche to Pakistan. (ANI)