India to appeal Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence; Pak PM adviser raises 'two passports' issue
Sartaz Aziz, adviser to Pakistain prime minister Nawaz Sharif said Jadhav had two passports Photograph: (WION)
India's envoy to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale met Pakistan Foreign Secretary today and raised two demands - copies of chargesheet and judgment by Pakistan military court against Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been handed the death sentence for 'spying' by a Pakistan military court.
India demanded consular access to Jadhav for the fourteenth time today but Pakistan foreign secretary said, "since this is a case of espionage, consular access can't be granted".
Pakistan has been steadfast in its view that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a 'spy'.
In fact, Sartaz Aziz, adviser to Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, candidly asked in a press conference: "I would like to ask India why he (Jadhav) was using a fake identity and masquerading as a Muslim. Why would an innocent person possess two passports, one with a Hindu name and the other bearing a Muslim name? For this, India has no answer."
India, on the other hand, has been insisting that Kulbhushan Jadhav had a valid visa. VK Singh, minister of state in the ministry of external affairs, said: "If Kulbhushan Jadhav had a valid Indian visa, then how can he be a spy?"
India's envoy conveyed to Pakistan that it will appeal the death sentence order and is currently poring over the Pakistan Army Act.
But Aziz later clarified that the 46-year-old convict will not be executed anytime soon as he has the right to appeal the military court's verdict. And if that doesn't suffice, he can file a clemency plea to the army chief.
The adviser further blamed India for ratcheting up tensions between the two countries.
Reacting to New Delhi's labelling of Jadhav's death sentence as "premeditated murder", the senior diplomat said the statement would only escalate matters and serve "no useful purpose".
The adviser also said Jadhav was represented by "a qualified legal officer" in his defence and that his confessional statement was recorded before a magistrate.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court Bar Association has threatened lawyers from taking up Jadhav's case, Rediff reported.
"The LHBA has unanimously decided to cancel the membership of any lawyer who offers his services to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav," Lahore High Court Bar Association Secretary-General Amer Saeed Raan said.
"India has declared Jadhav its son and is putting pressure on the Pakistani government for his release. We demand that the Indian spy who is involved in playing with lives of Pakistanis should not be spared and the government (should) ensure his hanging," he said.
Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in March, 2016, for trying to "destabilise" Pakistan and wage a war in the country. But India has denied that he is a spy and say he is a former naval officer but with no links with the government anymore.
The military court's verdict has further wracked the already-febrile bilateral relations between the two south Asian nations.
While Pakistan has stuck to its stance of Jadhav being involved in "espionage" activities, India has warned of severe consequences if he is executed.