Pakistan announced on Monday that it sentenced to death former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who Islamabad accuses of spying and holds as proof of New Delhi’s meddling in the restive border province of Balochistan.
A statement in the Pakistani military’s publicity wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Jadhav was declared guilty by an army court of waging war against the country and stoking violence in Balochistan.
“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 ISPR said on Monday afternoon. India has denied all charges.
“He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW 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.”
Jadhav was arrested on March 3 last year in Balochistan on charges of being a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent, fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Pakistan Army had also released a “confessional video” of Jadhav, who is purportedly heard as saying that he was serving the Indian Navy. In the video, Jadhav allegedly says he arrived in Iran in 2003 and started a small business in Chahbahar.
But India said its government has not had any contact with Jadhav, adding that a stable Pakistan was in the interest of the region. Pakistani media reports said Jadhav had an Iranian residency permit and that he purportedly had a passport in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. The place of birth given in this passport was apparently Sangli, Maharashtra.
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of fomenting unrest in Balochistan, the country’s largest province, but it has never offered any evidence to back up its claims. Such allegations have always been dismissed by New Delhi.
Jadhav’s detention and trial drove a wedge in bilateral ties as Islamabad repeatedly denied New Delhi’s request for extradition or consular access, saying the former navy officer was proof that India wanted to fan an armed insurrection in Balochistan.
Last December, Pakistan’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz told the upper house of Parliament that the “dossier on Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav contained mere statements” and didn’t have any conclusive evidence. Hours later, Pakistan denied the statement.