How Pakistani media reacted to Kulbhushan Jadhav's sentence

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 15, 2017 21:28 hrs
How Pakistani media reacted to Khulbhushan Jadhav's sentence

The Indian government called the death sentence handed out to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an act of pre-meditated murder. Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in March last year for being a spy and acting as an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). At a trial by Pakistan’s army court, referred to as the field general court martial, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. As per the statement of the military’s PR wing -

He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi

Such a public announcement of a harsh punishment is quite uncommon according to this article in Scroll.

It may be some time before we know what is actually happening here, and what Pakistan is trying to achieve. In peacetime, spies that have been caught tend to be used for leverage and often become part of quiet deals that are not publicised. That Islamabad chose to go public with its treatment of Jadhav makes it clear that this is a public relations exercise.

However, given that relations between the two countries are already strained, this is being viewed as irresponsible. The Indian government summoned the Pakistan ambassador and questioned the legitimacy of the trial and the manner in which it was carried out. The Foreign Secretary Jaishankar, in a demarche, said –

If this sentence (is) against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder. The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our high commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial

In response, the Pakistani Minister of Defense, Khawaja Muhammed Asif, defended the action saying that Jadhav was under trial for three months during which time he made a confession. The Minister also said that arrest was justified and that the Pakistan military in the western border and the line of control was faced with a difficult task of protecting the nation. He was quoted as saying -

However, what happened in Indian Gujrat, Samjhota Express and Kashmir is pre-meditated murders sponsored by India,” he said. He said that India had always been conspiring against Pakistan’s integrity through proxy war and through firing along border

An article by Kamran Yousaf in The Tribune pointed out that Khulbhushan’s capture and sentencing was out of the ordinary because he is the first serving military officer to be convicted of spying by Pakistan.

Yadav’s case helped Pakistan build a narrative that the Indian state agencies are involved in sponsoring terrorism at a time when Islamabad is itself facing the similar charge from New Delhi. Although Yadav was sentenced to death, he is unlikely to be executed in the foreseeable future given the fact that he still has the option to file an appeal as well as a mercy petition before the army chief and president of Pakistan.

The New York Times quoted an ex brigadier and defense analyst Farooq Ahmed Khan as saying that this was a victory for Pakistan. Khan also predicted that the move was likely to worsen conditions across the line of control.

He was not just a spy. Indian spy rings have been busted in the past. Jadhav is a serving Indian navy officer, who was working for RAW and involved in terror activities. He is a murderer. He is a terrorist. The death sentence is a big development and sends a very strong message to India that its attempts to sow terror inside Pakistan will not be tolerated

While there seems to be a general consensus in the Pakistani media that Jadhav is indeed a spy, and that the Indian government is hypocritical to claim that only Pakistan engages in terrorism across the border, there is a difference in tone.

An editorial in The Pakistan Observer welcomed the move, calling it a strong message to an enemy. The article went on to urge the government to expose Indian government’s actions in various international fora.

Those behind facilitating the killing of innocent people deserve no mercy and arrest of Kulbushan and some other agents clearly prove that foreign agencies especially RAW is involved in destabilising Pakistan and trying to undermine mega projects such as China Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Delivering strict punishment to such terrorists supported by foreign states has become all the more pivotal if our authorities really want to choke the transportation of these undesirable elements to the country and make the motherland cradle of peace and stability.

The editorial in the Dawn was measured in its reaction to the hanging. While pointing out that the documentation and the business ties to Iran are classic covers used by spies, there is worry about the harsh sentence meted out to him and the effect that it could have on relations between the two countries. A long-term solution on rules for covert action was also proposed -

It can only be hoped that back-channel communications or third-party interventions will help India and Pakistan quickly de-escalate tensions and, if necessary, establish new rules on the spycraft that all countries carry. Surely, no matter what the unspoken rules of spycraft may be, there ought to be no space for Indian nationals to be prowling around in Balochistan, let alone unauthorised entry anywhere in the territory of a nuclear-armed rival. The case of Kulbhushan Jadhav must not be allowed to repeat itself.

Pakistan Today’s editorial also called for an end to the continuing hostility between the two countries saying that the nasty fights on social media are indicative of bitterness and ill-will which will serve no purpose.

Will the Indian government take a tit-for-tat action, by accusing someone in custody of being a Pakistani spy and seek a similar judgment against him? Will there be a spurt in ceasefire violations on the LoC? Or will the two NSAs try to find a way that reduces tensions between the two countries? The only way to delay the execution or get it commuted to a lighter sentence is by using the right of appeal provided under the recently passed military courts law before the High Courts and the Supreme Court

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