Pakistan rules out immediate execution of Indian 'spy' Kulbhushan Jadhav

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers walk during night patrol near the fenced border with Pakistan in Abdullian, southwest of JammuMukesh Gupta/Reuters

Pakistan said it would not immediately execute alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, giving some breathing space to New Delhi. Defence Min­ister Khawaja Mohammad Asif insisted the punishment given to Jadhav was in accordance with Pakistani laws and there will be no special concession for him.

A secret military court, the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Rawalpindi sentenced Jadhav to death on Monday, 10 April. He was arrested in March 2016 for alleged espionage activities in the restive Balochistan region. India denied the spying charges but acknowledged he was a former naval officer.

The verdict sparked outrage in India, which called it "premeditated murder". Under the existing options, Jadhav can appeal against the verdict in three appellate forums, said the Pakistani defence minister. The Indian national needs to move the army court of appeal within 60 days of his conviction. He will also have an opportunity to submit mercy pleas to the army chief and the president.

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Defending the trial, Asif claimed the process was impartial and lasted for three and a half months after a thorough investigation. There will be no special consideration for individuals engaged in anti-national and terror activities, Asif told the Pakistan Senate on Wednesday, 12 April.

"We have done absolutely nothing that is against the rules and regulations. The trial continued for three and a half months, but there is premeditated murder going on even today in Kashmir," said Asif. "It was premeditated murder in Gujarat. It was premeditated murder [when the] Samjhota Express [was attacked]."

Local reports suggest Indian and Pakistani authorities have attempted to initiate back-channel talks to resolve the issue. However, there is no official word on any formal negotiations as yet.

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals – which have fought three wars since their independence – are high and the death sentence would only aggravate the already surcharged atmosphere.

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