|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
A press release of April 10 by Pakistan’s notorious ISPR said that Kulbhushan Jadhav arrested from Balochistan on March 3, 2016 for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan was tried by FGCM under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Section 3 of Official Secrets Act 1923, found guilty of all charges which he confessed, and awarded death sentence. The press release further said that the accused was provided with defending officer, and that his death sentence has been confirmed by army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. That India has been consistently asking for consular access from the day arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav was announced is a well known fact, which Pakistan has consistently denied. Army Act in any country is applicable to personnel of that army, both uniformed and civilians, not anyone else. Not providing consular access to India and saying a defending officer was provided is a façade and the so called defending officer may well have been a terrorist himself.
The very fact that Jadhav was tried under a Kangaroo Military Court under Pakistan’s Army Act is a blasphemy of international norms and laws. Army Act of any country is applicable to personnel of the said army – both uniformed and civilians. But then rogue Pakistan can be expected to go to any disgraceful extent. The military courts of Pakistan have been acting notoriously in backdrop of the military-ISI-terrorist connections, giving rulings coloured with radical Islamic fundamentals, with these military courts being part of the genocide unleashed in Balochistan, North Waziristan and Gilgit-Baltistan to ruthlessly stamp out dissent. It is significant to note that while Jadhav was allegedly captured in Balochistan on March 4, 2016, over 10 months later in December 2016, Sartaj Aziz, Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs told a full Senate chamber that the dossier on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav contained just statements, and that additional evidence had to be collected.
Dawn had quoted Sartaj Aziz as having said, "So far, we have just statements about the involvement of the Indian spy in terror activities in Pakistan” Geo TV had then quoted Sartaj Aziz saying,"It (the dossier) did not have any conclusive evidence. "What the dossier contained was not enough. Now it is up to the concerned authorities how long they take to give us more matter on the agent." When Sartaj added “Now it is up to the concerned authorities how long they take to give us more matter on the agent", was possibly a hint to the Pakistani military-ISI to ‘cook up’ evidence? Last year, Mehdi Honardoost, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan dismissed Pakistan’s charge that Jadhav was a spy, saying that the claims were “one hundred percent false”. Had Pakistan believed RAW was operating out of Iran, they should have shared this information with Tehran. But more significant was the expose on this sordid affair by Gunter Mulack, former German Ambassador to Pakistan, who disclosed he had information that Jadhav had been kidnapped by the Taliban (on franchise by Pakistan) near Chaman, and sold to Pakistan’s ISI. Between Sartaj Aziz’s statement of December 2916 and sentencing of Kulbhushan Jadhav on April 10, 2017, there has been another development which may be linked to the sentencing of Jadhav. Pakistan alleges that Lt Col Zahir, who retired from the Pakistan army in 2014, went missing on April 6 from Lumbini, a Buddhist pilgrimage site close to the Indian border, where he arrived after somebody by the name of Mark Thompson had contacted him via email and telephone for a job interview in Nepal.
The allegation is that Zahir was kidnapped by R&AW which India denies. What Zahir was doing in Lumbini is not mentioned and what was the job interview – possibly an ISI task to undertake sabotage in Lumbini? Why else would a Pakistani colonel , probably radicalized and tasked, go to Lumbini? According to Pakistani officials, Jadhav had entered Pakistan illegally through the border with Iran and he was believed to be contracted privately with a construction project linked to the Chabahar port in Iran. Significantly, the arrest was announced on the day Iranian President Rouhani landed in Pakistan for a bilateral visit, and just prior to the Pakistani joint intelligence team (JIT) heading to India for probing the Pathankot IAF base terror attack engineered by Pakistan on January 2. With the type of massive Pakistani army-cum-ISI linked terror groups ongoing operations in Balochistan, why would Jadhav cross into Baluchistan from Iran? With Pakistani cross-border operations into Iran, was Jadhav lured into Balochistan by the ISI for using him to prove India’s involvement in Baloch insurgency, all other efforts having failed? Was this to score a point against the Iranian President, telling him Iranian territory was being used for anti-Pakistan activities? Did ISI arrange the passport for him with a fake name – which would be no problem with ISI expertise? Was Jadhav lured from Iran? What would one man crossing into Balochistan achieve when the digitized world is already flat, and when Balochistan is crammed with the marauding Pakistani army? All said and done, high on Chinese support and given the Nelson’s Eye by the Trump Administration, Pakistan has turned rotten to the care. Bettering relations with Indian is not in its priority.