Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is “analysing” the evidence against Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court, and will decide his appeal on merit, the Army said here on Sunday. Jadhav, 46, filed a mercy petition before Gen Bajwa last month, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement issued on June 22. The statement said that the former Indian Navy officer had filed the petition after the Military Appellate Court rejected his appeal.
Pakistan Army spokesman Major Gen Asif Ghafoor today told reporters that Gen Bajwa was “analysing the evidence against Jadhav. The Army chief will decide Jadhav’s appeal on merit.” Jadhav is eligible to appeal for clemency to the Army chief under Pakistan’s law, and if his plea is rejected, he can subsequently appeal the Pakistan president for the same.
He was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April for his alleged involvement in espionage and terrorist activities. The International Court of Justice in The Hague in May halted his execution on India’s appeal.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied India consular access to Jadhav in violation of the Vienna Convention. It has also sat on a request for a visa to Jadhav’s mother, Avantika Jadhav, so that she can travel to Pakistan and meet her son. On July 13, the foreign office said Pakistan was “considering” the request for visa.
Pakistan claims to have arrested Jadhav from Balochistan province on March 3 last year after he reportedly entered from Iran. However, India maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
At the briefing today, the Army spokesman also accused India of ceasefire violations and targeting civilians along the LoC. “There were 580 ceasefire violation on the LoC so far in 2017, which is the highest number of violations in recent years,” he said, suggested that India was “compelled” by the “domestic pressure” to do so.
Asked about the “role” of the military in the joint investigation team (JIT) report against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and government allegations of a “conspiracy”, the spokesman said that the Army was only focused on the “security of the country.”
“JIT was formed by the Supreme Court which did its job honestly. Its report will be examined by the court. Army has no role in the process,” he said. Maj Gen Ghafoor said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a project of national development and the Army would provide complete security to it and will not let it fail.
On a bill passed by the US House of Representatives toughening up conditions for aid to Pakistan, the spokesman conceded the “conditions were coercive but it should not be interpreted as sanctions.”
The spokesman also talked about the Army’s operation against militants in Khyber tribal district near Afghanistan. “It would help us to secure the border with Afghanistan which is used by militants to sneak into Pakistan.”
The northwestern tribal region has witnessed increasing terrorist attacks of late, some claimed by the Islamic State. Maj Gen Ghafoor rejected any “organised presence” of the terrorist group in Pakistan. He, however expressed fears that the group was getting stronger in Afghanistan.
He said Afghanistan should look at the security situation with its own “lens” and not through the “lens of any other country.”