The death sentence awarded by a Pakistani military court martial (Monday, April 10) in respect of a purported Indian ‘spy’ – Kulbhushan Jadhav – a retired Indian naval officer merits the prefix of a ‘kangaroo’ court – meaning that it that had arrived at the verdict even before the evidence had been objectively and judiciously assessed.
Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in March 2016 in Balochistan and he was accused of being an undercover RAW agent engaged in stoking the Baloch separatist movement and seeking to scuttle the high-profile China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. At the time Delhi had rejected these allegations and had sought consular access to Jadhav which was denied.
In a matter of 12 months, the Pakistan military convened a field general court martial (FGCM) and gravely concluded that a death sentence was warranted. The Pakistani ISPR made the official press statement – and not the Pakistan Foreign office and noted that Cdr. Jadhav had “confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.”
New Delhi has responded firmly and cautioned Islamabad in an unusual turn of phrase that this act by Pakistan would be deemed to be one of ‘pre-meditated murder’. Clearly the already strained India-Pakistan bilateral is all set to go further south – and certain questions loom large.
Why is Pakistan raising the ante against India now in such a brazen and provocative manner in espionage case that seemingly lacks credibility ?
The kangaroo nature of the Jadhav verdict can be linked to a startling disclosure by the Pakistani media in early December 2016 when it was reported that the “ Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz kicked up a controversy by stating in the Senate that government could not finalise a dossier on captured Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav because of inadequate evidence provided so far.”
This was the equivalent of setting the cat among the pigeons and within a few hours, the Pak Foreign office scrambled and the media carried another statement that totally denied the initial statement by Sarataj Aziz and the anti-India line was reiterated.
While India conducted the 26/11 terror attack case against Kasab in the most transparent manner possible – the Jadhav case has been rushed through in the most opaque manner.
Pakistan’s brazenness in defying established international consular norms and cocking-a-snook at India may be attributed to a new surge of confidence about how Rawalpindi is perceived by the major powers – in this case the USA, China and to an extent Russia.
Projecting Delhi as the obstacle to the China-Pakistan economic corridor a month ahead of the mid May summit being convened by President Xi Jiping in Beijing is one strand – the other being the feelers being put out by the Trump administration to ostensibly ‘mediate’ in the troubled India-Pakistan bi-lateral.
J&K is going through another cycle of violence and a sense of déjà-vu is palpable.