Pakistan May Not Hang Kulbhushan Jadhav

kulbhushan jadhav death sentence

kulbhushan jadhav death sentence

The plot is thickening over the death penalty awarded to former Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, by a military court in Pakistan. In fact, India for the 14th time was denied consular access to meet Jadhav in Pakistan. Experts have started suspecting that Pakistan military personnel might have tortured and killed the 46-year old ex-navy officer. External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Gopal Baglay’s statement that India has no idea about Kulbhushan Jadhav’s location or condition gives weight to this suspicion.

But there are people who believe that Jadhav, who has been charged with espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan, is alive and that he would not be hastily executed by the Pakistani military court.

What is the basis of such gut feeling? Do people have any information in this regard? Not that they do, exactly, yet they have their own set of ideas and arguments as to why Pakistan may not allow their country’s internal condition to become messy by hanging Jadhav in haste.

In this context, they see in India’s warning to Pakistan one plausible reason why there will be a lot of soul-searching by Islamabad before proceeding on to execute him. Jadhav, according to a former German diplomat, was kidnapped by Taliban inside Iran’s Chaman area and sold to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

In no uncertain terms, Pakistan has also been told by India that if the former has already carried out Jadhav’s death sentence, New Delhi would treat it as an “act of pre-mediated murder”. Followed by India’s cry of foul over the manner Pakistan denied consular access to meet Jadhav, the top US think-tanks and the Amnesty International have also questioned the secrecy of trial.

Even if these developments may not impact hard-nosed Pakistani military officials and civilian leadership of the country, say the experts, they may shudder at the prospect of India giving its tacit support to anti-Pakistani forces ready to balkanise Pakistan into several parts.

What India Can do to Teach Pakistan a Lesson?

India has sounded it clearly to Pakistan that Jadhav is innocent and if Islamabad proceeded on to hang him to death, then it will have consequences on bilateral relations of the two countries. This is a heavy-worded warning and it means New Delhi would not hesitate to do what it has never thought of doing earlier. And it would begin with Balochistan, a Pakistan province which is rife with incidents of human rights abuse, custodial deaths and abductions of Baloch people.

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of human rights abuse of people in Balochistan, in his speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, 2016, India has been looked upon by Baloch people as a nation that can stand by them in their fight for independence from Pakistan.

Hundreds of Baloch nationals have sought political asylum in India. They have requested the government to allow them to form a government in exile in India. Once such demands are accepted, fight for Balochistan’s secession from Pakistan will start gathering momentum.

Besides Balochistan, Pakistan’s other province, Sindh is simmering in discontent. Forced disappearance and human rights abuse of people in Sindh have been often flashed by the international media. Sindhi political leader G M Syed had fanned movement for Sindhudesh in the 1960s. In the same period, a literary movement under the leadership of Pir Ali Mohammed Rashdi had also started. By taking various repressive measures, the Pakistan government tried to smother the voices of dissent. But these have remained unsuppressed.

In March 2012, a Sindhudesh rally was organised in Karachi, which was followed by a freedom march by the pro-separatist Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz. Although Altaf Hussain-led Muttahida Qaumi Movement has been banned, its separatist activity is still causing heartburns to Pakistani authorities. India can easily tap such resentments to teach Pakistan a bitter lesson.

Can India Take Legal Action Against Pakistan?

Under article 36(I)(C) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a country has the right to consular access to its nationals. Both India and Pakistan are party to the Vienna Convention and under the treaty, a nation is obliged to promptly inform the competent consulate when one of their nationals is arrested or detained.

If Pakistan is denying consular access to India to meet Kulbhushan Jadhav, New Delhi can approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to redress the matter. Mexico had approached the ICJ in 2004 for seeking relief for Mexicans under death sentence in the US. The ICJ had directed the US to review and reconsider the issue. In the same way, New Delhi can take recourse to the same legal way and put Pakistan in the dock for not allowing Indian officials to meet Jadhav. Experts feel that this is a significant legal tool to push Pakistan to the wall.

Diplomatic Channels

There is no unanimity among diplomats over the use of diplomatic or back-channel talks to rescue the ex-Indian naval official from going to gallows. Some say New Delhi should opt for diplomatic channels to resolve the issue. Under it, there is a possibility Pakistan may ask India to release high-valued Pakistan nationals lodged in various jails on the charge of espionage and sabotage. According to an estimate, over three dozen Pakistani nationals are cooling their heels in Indian jails. Like recent swapping of their spies by Russia and the US, India and Pakistan, too, can undertake swapping of their respective nationals.