ISLAMABAD/NEW, DELHI – A Pakistani military court has sentenced an alleged Indian spy to death, the Defense Ministry announced Monday, drawing an angry reaction from India.
The ministry, in a press release, said the man identified as Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav, was tried and convicted by a military court martial “for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.”
It said he was arrested in the turbulent province of Balochistan in March 2016 and confessed to having been tasked by Indian intelligence agency 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.”
He was said to be based in the Iranian port city of Chabahar and was arrested on March 3, 2016, after crossing into Balochistan.
Relations between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India are already at a low ebb and analysts in Pakistan were unanimous that the incident would further strain bilateral relations.
Later Monday, in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to his ministry and handed over a demarche, in which it called the sentence against Jadhav “farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him.”
“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 ministry said Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran “and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly.”
It said Pakistani authorities refused India’s repeated requests for consular access to him, as provided for by international law.
The Pakistani military’s announcement came on the heels of reports in Pakistani media Sunday that a senior retired Pakistan Army official has been missing in Nepal since last week.
Retired Lt. Col. Muhammad Habib Zubiar, who retired from army in 2014, was reportedly offered a lucrative job as zone chief for a Britain-based company, sent an airline ticket and asked to come to Kathmandu to sign the service contract.
He last contacted his family from Lubmbhun area of Nepal, just few kilometers from the Indian border, on April 6.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria confirmed that he was missing in Nepal and said Pakistan’s embassy there is making efforts to locate him.
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