Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that Kulbhushan Jadhav has a right to appeal against his death sentence within 60 days, even as he justified the death penalty given to the Indian national.
Jadhav, 46, was awarded death sentence by military Field General Court Martial under the army act for his alleged involvement in terrorism and espionage. The death sentence was confirmed by powerful army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Speaking in the Senate, upper house of parliament, the defence minister said that Jadhav has the right to appeal against his death sentence within 60 days.
The sentence sparked an angry reaction from India which said Jadhav’s execution would be treated as “premeditated murder.”
Asif dismissed Indian concerns that proper legal process was not observed in the trial. “There was nothing in the [legal] proceedings that was against the law,” he said.
He also rejected the charges of premeditated murder.
“It’s not premeditated murder, what’s happening in Kashmir is (premeditated murder),” he alleged.
The minister further said that the trial of Jadhav went for went on “for three months”, rejecting rumours that he was hastily convicted.
The minister said those working against the security of Pakistan would be treated with “iron hands.”
“Whether the enemies come from across the border or within Pakistan, they will receive punishment,” he said.
He said that Jadhav had confessed his crime in the confessional statement, which is available on record.
Pakistan claims its security forces had arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3 last year after he reportedly entered from Iran. It also claimed that he was “a serving officer in the Indian Navy.”
The Pakistan Army had also released a “confessional video” of Jadhav after his arrest.
India had acknowledged that Jadhav had served with the navy but denied that he has any connection with the government.
The incident is expected to further deteriorate already strained Indo-Pak ties which were hit after deadly attacks in Pathankot and Uri by Pakistan-based terrorists last year.
Image: Congress workers in Mumbai protest against Pakistan's decision to sentence Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for espionage. Photograph: Sandeep Salvi