Pakistan’s announcement on Kulbhushan Jadhav threatens to escalate bilateral tensions

Pakistan’s sudden announcement that former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav has been sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial is a development fraught with danger.

Possible implications of the move
It could lead to a rapid escalation in bilateral tensions that the region can ill afford.

Suspicious trail of Kulbhushan Jadhav
The trial, sentencing, and its confirmation by the Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, were carried out so secretly that the news took many in Pakistan as well by surprise.

His recorded confession that was broadcast at a press conference within weeks of his arrest in March 2016 appeared to have been spliced.

At various points in the tape, and in the transcript of the confession made available, Mr. Jadhav contradicts his own statements, suggesting that he had been tutored.

Even if the confession was admissible in a court of law, little by way of corroborative evidence has been offered by Pakistan to back up the claim that Mr. Jadhav, who was allegedly arrested in Balochistan last year, had been plotting operations against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

How India needs to react?
New Delhi must step up its responses in the matter, as it seems to have kept it on the backburner, confining itself to fruitless, repeated representations.

India must also pursue the issue with Iran, where Mr. Jadhav is believed to have been based for more than a decade, and investigate how he was brought, by force or otherwise, into Pakistan.

The Jadhav case requires a proactive three-pronged response from India: impressing on Pakistan that the death sentence must not be carried out, explaining to the international community the flawed trial process, and sending interlocutors to open backchannels for diplomacy for Mr. Jadhav’s safe return home.

(Adopted from The Hindu)