Islamabad, Pakistan. A military court has sentenced a former naval officer to death in a case that has strained Indian and Pakistani relations to the breaking point in recent weeks.
Pakistan’s army on Monday sentenced a former Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, to the death penalty for charges of espionage and sabotage, just over a year after he was arrested. The sentence is expected to bring diplomatic relations between the two countries to a new low.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan’s head envoy to New Delhi and said Jadhav’s “so-called trial” was “clearly absurd,” and that India would consider his execution an act of “premeditated murder.” Further cranking up the tensions between both countries.
Jadhav was arrested March 3, 2016, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, near its border with Iran. Pakistan has long accused India of fomenting rebellion in the already unstable province. Jadhav was allegedly traveling using the alias Hussein Mubarak Patel.
“His goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with Gwadar port as a special target,” said a spokesperson for Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa. “This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism. There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan.”
Meanwhile questions linger if Jadhav was tortured during questioning or if his trial was truly a decision reached by an independent body of jurisprudence. He is expected to appeal the conviction as India continues to formally demand his release.