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Jadhav's death sentence
Pakistan announcing death sentence for alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav has potential threat to escalate bilateral tensions
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The sudden announcement made by Pakistan on Monday that the former Indian Naval Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav has been awarded death penalty by a Field General Curt Martial is a development that is fraught with danger. This announcement has the potential of a rapid escalation in the bilateral tensions between the two countries that the region cannot afford at this point of time. In fact, the already bitter relations between India and Pakistan have suffered another jolt with death penalty for the Indian prisoner in Pakistan. It is strange that hawkish elements on both sides have worked overtime in escalating tensions between the two countries when diplomacy should have been allowed a chance to improve the relations. Unfortunately, the confirmation for the trial and death sentence has been made by no less a person than the Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Moreover, it is also surprising that the entire process was veiled in secrecy that many in Pakistan and India were not ready to accept it. Going by the sequence of events that followed during the past many weeks, there appear to be glaring holes in the procedures followed by the Pakistani government and the army in the investigations and trial of Jadhav. The latter's confessional statements that was played at a press conference within weeks of his arrest in March last year appear to have been doctored and this was the reason that doubts have been cast on the entire process. From what appears in the confessional script of Jadhav, at different points, he contradicts his own statements making a suggestion that he has been tutored in doing so. On face value of the statements, is they are admissible in any court, Pakistan government has not offered any corroborative evidence to back up the claim that Jadhav, who was arrested in Baluchistan last had been plotting operations against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC infra-structure in Pakistan is a heavily guarded area, where nobody can intrude and cause harm to it. Indian Foreign Minister's statement in Parliament giving details of several requests made for consular access and replies from Pakistani establishment further casts the entire procedures followed in poor light. The international human rights organisations have also criticised them calling for a retrial preferably in a civil court with a right to appeal against the judicial decisions.

Under the given circumstances and the existing tensions between the two countries India must speed its responses in the matter and not to keep it on the backburner, confining itself to fruitless repeated representations. India shuld also take up the issue with Iran, where Jadhav was believed to have been based for more than a decade and investigate how he was brought to Pakistan. The timing of the death sentence announcement is also being seen in the context of spy versus spy, with the recent disappearance of a former Pakistan Army officer in Nepal. Such matter should be left to security agencies at the highest level, but the issues relating Jadhav's arrest need to be dispelled at this stage. Moreover, escalation in tensions brings into focus the consequences of the breakdown in the Comprehensive Dialogue Process between India and Pakistan which have left a limited scope for the meaningful communications between the two governments. Such processes have also taken away the scope for sorting out many matters in a saner and sober manner. The Indian decision to snap all ties and dialogue process with Pakistan after the January 2016 Pathankot attack is hardly likely to bring the desired results when a precious human life is involved. The Jadhav case requires a three-pronged strategic response from the Indian side. Firstly, impressing upon Pakistan not to carry out the death sentence; secondly, explaining to the international community, the flowed trial process and lastly sending envoys for opening up back-channel diplomacy for Jadhav's safe return home. Even otherwise also, belligerent attitude of India is unlikely to contribute in any way in improvement of the bilateral relations between the two Nuclear-armed neighbours in South Asia. The need of the hour is to act in a mature manner and restore all dialogue processes for sorting out all the contentious issues between India and Pakistan and ensure peace and stability for the sake of teeming millions of poor people in two countries.

News Updated at : Friday, April 14, 2017
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