Kulbhushan Jadhav can appeal against his sentence within 60 days, says Pakistan's defence minister
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had called the death sentence 'premeditated murder'.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer sentenced to death by that country’s Army, could appeal before the Army Chief and the President within 60 days, The Hindu reported. Asif, who spoke in the upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament, criticised the Indian response to Jadhav’s conviction. “All I want to say is that we have followed all the rules and regulations, and the laws of the land.”
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had cautioned Pakistan against the consequences its bilateral ties with India will face if it goes through with the death penalty it imposed on Jadhav on Monday. Jadhav was sentenced to death on charges of spying on the country as an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing.
“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav. This is an act of premeditated murder,” Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha, adding that the Centre will “go out of the way to save him”. “He is India’s son.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh had said in the Lok Sabha that the government will do “whatever possible” for Jadhav. “We want to assure all that there will be justice,” he said. Singh also questioned Pakistan’s claims that Jadhav was a spy because he had a “valid Indian visa”. “Consular access [to him] also been denied,” he noted.
Jadhav’s death sentence was also brought up in Parliament by the Opposition. Senior Congress member and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said if they failed to save Jadhav, it would prove the government’s weakness.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi spoke on the matter in the Lok Sabha. “The government should use its influence and try to bring him back here safe. The Pakistan military court...gave its judgement without any evidence,” he said.
There were a number of protests against Pakistan’s decision to impose the death penalty on Jadhav. Local residents staged agitations in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, as well as outside the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and in Lucknow. Amnesty India, too, had condemned the move on Monday.
In retaliation to Islamabad’s provocative move, India on Monday had decided against releasing 12 Pakistani prisoners who were to be repatriated last week. The government felt that this was not the right time to release them. Both countries follow the practice of sending back nationals lodged in each other’s jails after they complete their sentences.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had summoned Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and issued a demarche, saying the proceedings leading up to the death sentence for Jadhav were “farcical”.
Pakistan had accused Jadhav of having entered the country through Iran and helping Baloch separatists. It had charged him with terrorism, sabotage and violating the country’s Foreigner Act. After his arrest, the Pakistani Army had released what they claimed was a “confessional video”.
India had admitted that he was a retired Indian Navy officer, but had denied all claims that he was involved with the government in any way.