More than a month after the International Court of Justice at The Hague asked Pakistan not to execute former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Pakistan Army Thursday said he has filed a mercy petition with its Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The Pakistan Army said Jadhav’s appeal to the military appellate court has been rejected, and if the Army chief also rejects his plea, he has the option of appealing to Pakistan’s President. They also released a second “confessional” video in which Jadhav — according to the Pakistan Army spokesperson — is “accepting his acts of terrorism and espionage”.
In India, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said, “The developments bring out once again the lack of transparency and farcical nature of proceedings against Jadhav on concocted charges, continued violation of his legal and consular rights and an attempt to introduce prejudice in the proceedings in the ICJ.”
“Pakistan has never disclosed even to the ICJ Jadhav’s purported appeal to a military tribunal in Pakistan and has effectively prevented his parents from pursuing the appeal and the petition filed by Jadhav’s mother. The details and circumstances of the alleged mercy petition by Jadhav are not clear and even the fact of its existence is doubtful, shrouded as the proceedings against Jadhav have been in opacity,” the spokesperson said.
A statement tweeted by Pakistan Army spokesperson Maj General Asif Ghafoor read: “Jadhav, the serving Indian naval officer who has been sentenced to death on charges of espionage, sabotage and terrorism, has made a mercy petition to the Chief of Army Staff.”
“In his plea, Commander Jadhav has admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of many precious innocent lives and extensive damage to property due to his actions. Seeking forgiveness for his actions, he has asked the Chief of Army Staff to spare his life on compassionate grounds,” the Pakistan Army’s press release said.
This comes against the backdrop of the ICJ at The Hague asking India and Pakistan to make their pleas by September and December respectively, so that it can decide on the case. ICJ President Ronny Abraham met representatives from both countries last week, and gave India time till September 13 to file its “memorial” (plea). Pakistan has been given time till December 13.
On May 18, providing interim relief to New Delhi, the ICJ had stayed the execution of Jadhav till the court gives its final decision after the completion of proceedings. Jadhav, 46, who is in Pakistan’s custody since March last year, had been sentenced to death by a military court on April 10 on charges of espionage and subversive activities.
Within hours of the verdict, India had called it “the first step in ensuring justice”, and one which was a “matter of great relief” for people of the country. The verdict had accepted India’s contention on all counts, including ICJ’s “jurisdiction” citing violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which had been challenged by Pakistan at the court hearing on May 15. It also accepted New Delhi’s argument about the “urgency” of the matter, which had also been contested by Islamabad citing the 150-day clemency period.
India had also forwarded a mercy petition filed by Jadhav’s mother, though the fate of that petition is unclear. India has not been granted consular access to Jadhav, and has maintained that it does not have any information about Jadhav’s well-being.
In his “confessional” statement, Jadhav claimed he was tasked with disrupting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and asked to cultivate Baloch nationalists.
He claimed in the video that he was stationed in Chabahar under the “fictitious name Hussein Mubarak Patel” and ran a business there called “Kaminda Trading company”. He further claimed it was a “discreet non-embassy based operation” exclusively meant to conduct meetings with Baloch insurgents and terrorists. The aim of these meetings, he claimed, was to see that the aims and targets of R&AW to conduct the “various terrorist activities within Balochistan are conveyed properly to the insurgents and any kinds of requirements by them are conveyed back to the RAW officials”.
He detailed his meeting with then R&AW chief Alok Joshi, and also made claims about planning attacks on Pakistan’s consulate in Zahedan. He also claimed that about USD 40,000 was paid to Baloch “sub-nationals” for carrying out such activities.
In the video, purportedly recorded in April this year, he further claimed, “During my judicial proceedings, which were held under the field general court martial, l was accorded a defence council by the officials here who were conducting the entire proceedings. Today, having spent time in Pakistan, I feel very ashamed and l genuinely seek pardon of the acts and sins and crimes I have committed here against the nation and the people of Pakistan.”
The MEA spokesperson, meanwhile, said, “The government has once again demanded earlier this week consular access to Jadhav and reiterated his family’s request for visas. Manufactured facts cannot alter reality, and do not detract from the fact that Pakistan is in violation of its international obligation to India and Jadhav.
We expect Pakistan to abide by the order of ICJ staying Jadhav’s execution and desist from attempting to influence the ICJ proceedings through false propaganda.
India is determined to pursue the matter in ICJ and is confident that justice will be done without being affected in any manner by these unwarranted and misleading steps taken by Pakistan.”