ISLAMABAD: Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian naval officer arrested last year on espionage and sabotage charge, was sentenced to death on Monday. Gen. Qamer Javed Bajwa, the head of Pakistan’s armed forces, has confirmed his death sentence, a military statement said on Monday, without stating when the execution would take place.

Pakistani military officials described the capture of Jadhav as a major counter-intelligence victory. He was accused of running a clandestine terror network within the province and of participating in various activities meant to destabilize the country.

Islamabad alleged Jadhav as an Indian intelligence official who aided and financed terrorist activities in the southwestern province of Baluchistan and the southern port city of Karachi. A video released by Pakistan’s army shortly after Jadhav’s arrest shows his confession spending years sowing unrest in Pakistan. It was not clear if he was speaking under duress.

“I have been directing activities on behalf of the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing),” he said in the confession video. Jadhav said he started working with RAW in 2013 after more than a decade in the Indian Navy. RAW is India’s premier intelligence agency.

A retired Pakistani brigadier and defense analyst based in Lahore, Pakistan, Farooq Hameed Khan, said: “Mr. Jadhav was no ordinary catch for Pakistan, 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.”

India has denied the allegation, calling Pakistan’s accusations baseless and gave a starkly different version of Jadhav’s arrest and profession.

As per Indian ministry statement, Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan was never explained credibly. It was concluded that his death sentence, if carried out, would be regarded as premeditated murder by the Indian government. They claimed that The Indian High Commission, its diplomatic mission in Pakistan, was not even informed about his trial. Pakistan had ignored 13 separate requests in the past year to permit him consular services.

“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,” said Mr. Farooq Hameed Khan.

AS Dulat, a former Indian spy chief, said in an interview “spies are caught everywhere all the time. You ask for a favour. Somebody returns a favour. That’s how it is. You don’t hang people. In normal circumstances, you don’t hang the people like this,” he said.

– Bandana Singh, Correspondent (Asia: South)

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