India dropped bilateral talks with Pakistan as the country’s remained on a stalemate on the issue of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence. Jadhav, who was arrested in Pakistan and charged with espionage and waging war, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in March this year. Pakistan claims that Jadhav is an operative of the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) while India maintains that the Indian government and its intelligence machinery has had no connection with Jadhav after he left service.
The issue has become another sore in the already ailing relationship between the two neighbours. Significant activity has taken place on diplomatic fronts, though it didn’t bear any fruit. The already deteriorating relationship was hit with the setbacks on Saturday.
Here’s a look at what all has happened:
India has dropped bilateral dialogue with Pakistan over Jadhav’s death sentence. Talks between Director General of the Indian Coast Guard and Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency were scheduled to begin on Monday, but the Indian government called it off. The four-day visit of Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar, DG, Pakistan Maritime Agency was planned between April 16 and April 19. According to reports, Water Secretary level talks are also on hold.
Pakistan’s Dawn news agency reported on Saturday that Pakistani police in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir arrested three people suspected to be agents of R&AW alleged to being involved in anti-state activities. The news agency reported that the three were produced before the media in Rawalkot and the authorities claimed they were residents of Taroti village in Abbaspur, PoK.
Deputy Superintendent of Police in Pooch Sajid Imran told media present at the briefing that khalil, one of the main accused, visited Kashmir three years ago in 2014 and that is when he had come in contact with R&AW. He also accused the three of being behind an IED blast outside an Abbaspur police station last year. The three have been booked by Pakistan police under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and Explosives Act. The arrests were announced soon after the announcement of Jadhav’s sentencing. Meanwhile, Indian government had issued a demarche to Pakistan saying Jadhav’s execution will be counted as premeditated murder and that it would severely hit their bilateral relationship.
On Friday, India had again demanded consular access to Jadhav and certified copies of the chargesheet of Jadhav.
After he held a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmima Janjua, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan in Islamabad Gautam Bambawale said: “I have asked for a certified copy of the chargesheet as well as the judgment in the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav. They have denied our request for consular access 13 times. I have again requested the Pakistan Foreign Secretary to give access to Jadhav so that we can appeal.”
While Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised full support to Jadhav, Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd) V.K. Singh described Pakistan’s charges against Jadhav as “fictitious”. Sartaj Aziz, advisor on foreign affairs to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, defended Pakistan’s actions claiming that all due process of law was followed in Jadhav’s military trial. He also accused Indian media of exasperating the situation. Aziz claimed the Jadhav was behind terrorist activities in Pakistan including killing of Shia minority Muslims in the country, carrying out bombings in cities of Quetta, Gwadar and Turbat in Balochistan.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations department issued a statement last week in which it said that Jadhav was tried under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The Act, which deals only with espionage rather than violent crimes, allows for the death penalty to be imposed for spies who gather “information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”.
In hindsight, Aziz had said in a statement to the Pakistan senate in December last year that there was insufficient evidence on Jadhav. However, he retracted his statement in March and few days later in the same month his sentencing was done in a secret trial.
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