The Pakistani Army on Monday said it would not provide India consular access to former Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a military court in the neighbouring country on April 10. This comes days after India’s External Affairs Ministry had sought a certified copy of the chargesheet and the military court order in the case, in addition to consular access to Jadhav, PTI reported.
“Under the law, we cannot give consular access to Kulbhushan,” spokesperson for the Pakistan military Major General Asif Ghafoor said in Rawalpindi. “The court martial is based on such evidence which cannot be refuted at any forum.”
However, Indian authorities have maintained that there was no official communication from Islamabad in this regard.
Ghafoor reiterated that Jadhav can appeal against the verdict at the Pakistan Army’s appellate court and then to the Army chief against the decision of the appellate court. He pointed out that the former naval officer could also file an appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court and President Mamnoon Hussain. “We will defend his conviction at every forum,” Ghafoor added.
Pakistan had arrested Jadhav in March 2016 on accusations of having entered the country through Iran and helping Baloch separatists, while working for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. Jadhav was charged 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”.
New Delhi has maintained that it will treat Jadhav’s sentencing as murder if Islamabad goes ahead with the execution. “The way in which the verdict has been given by the [Pakistani] Army court is not transparent and not in accordance with bilateral relations between the two nations,” Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had said.
On Monday, the Allahabad High Court had said it was the government’s “moral and constitutional responsibility” to bring Jadhav back. The Lucknow bench, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation on the matter, asked the Centre what steps it had taken so far.