New Delhi: India on Tuesday warned Pakistan that bilateral ties will be hit if it went ahead with the death sentence awarded to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
“The government and people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha.
The minister added that the Indian government “will go out of the way to save him (Jadhav)”.
“I would caution the Pakistan government to consider the consequences for our bilateral relationship if they proceed on this matter.”
She reiterated India’s stand that Jadhav, arrested in March 2016 from the restive Balochistan province and accused of espionage and waging war against Pakistan, has been framed under false charges.
She said Pakistan was doing all that to divert global attention from its activities of sponsoring terrorism in India.
“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav. He is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism.
“We have no choice but to regard this sentence if carried out as an act of premeditated murder,” the minister said.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, appealed to the government to appoint a strong lawyer who can fight Jadhav’s case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“This is a matter of the entire nation. I appeal to the government to appoint a competent lawyer to fight his case in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. So that his case is won in the apex court,” said Azad.
The minister assured the House that the government would appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and would petition the President of the country to save “the son of the nation”.
“Not just the Supreme Court… We will do everything possible to save him. Appealing in the Supreme Court or appointing a lawyer for him is a very small thing. We will even approach the President of Pakistan to save him,” said Sushma Swaraj.
The matter was raised in the house with opposition and the treasury benches jointly expressing solidarity with Jadhav, who was awarded the capital punishment by a Pakistani Field General Court Martial.
Army chief General Qamar Javed has confirmed the sentencing.
The issue was raised by Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal, who said Pakistan has challenged India by sentencing Jadhav to death. He said New Delhi’s “Pakistan policy is weak”.
“It’s a challenge to the country,” he said.
Agrawal was supported by former Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who termed the issue “very serious” and said India “must convey it to Pakistan in strongest terms”.