'We have to hit Pakistan in such a manner where it hurts them the most.'
Vappala Balachandran, a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, better known as the Research and Analysis Wing, says the Indian government should hit Pakistan back where it hurts the most in retaliation to the manner in which alleged R&AW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav has been sentenced to death in Pakistan.
Jadhav, left, was allegedly arrested in Pakistan's Balochistan province last year, and charged with being an Indian spy.
The Pakistan army later released a 'confessional video' in which Jadhav said he was a serving Indian Navy officer.
India issued 6 note verbales to the Pakistan foreign ministry, seeking consular access to Jadhav, but was denied a meeting with him.
A note verbale is an unsigned diplomatic communication which is less formal than a letter of protest, but is used to forcefully remind the receiving nation of its diplomatic obligations.
India said Jadhav had retired as a commander in the Indian Navy in 2002 and had nothing to do with the Indian government since.
Balachandran, bottom, left, spoke to Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore.
How do you react to Pakistan sentencing Kulbhushan Jadhav who the Indian government says is an Indian national, but denies that he is a R&AW agent?
How can they (Pakistan) do this in secrecy?
What type of government is this? What type of judicial system is this?
There is no clear idea who has given this death sentence to him (Kulbhushan Jadhav).
Is it the (Pakistan) military or (a criminal) court?
Newspaper reports from Pakistan suggest the death sentence was ordered by a field general court martial under the Pakistan army act and confirmed by Pakistan's chief of army staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa...
Obviously, this is a mistrial; he was not even given consular access.
This act of a secret trial is absolutely cowardly if there was a secret trial at all.
One television channel said the army chief had awarded the death sentence.
Who is the army chief to award a death sentence? Does he have that right?
As far as I know, there is no such system in which the army chief can give a death sentence to anybody.
Even if it is a military court, you have to have a proper court constituted. And that has to be publicly announced so that the accused can get a chance to speak in his defence.
This is worse than any third rate dictatorship anywhere.
Is this unprecedented?
There is no doubt about that.
How should India respond?
India should take retaliatory action because an Indian national has been tried in utmost secrecy and (the trial) has been disposed like this.
One had heard this happening in Stalin's or Hitler's regimes, but not in modern times.
We have to take some unprecedented steps.
I can't imagine what we (the Indian government) will do, but we should lodge a very strong protest -- withdraw the (Indian) ambassador (to Pakistan) or some such (unprecedented) action or expel some people (Pakistani diplomats) from here.
I can't imagine what is going to happen but... I think even the government (of India) is taken by surprise.
Do you think the expulsion of Pakistani diplomats will send a strong message to Pakistan?
We have to definitely do that; ask them to pack up and leave or pin them down on this; some sort of visible action must be taken.
What could be those visible actions? Could they compel the Pakistani government to withdraw this death sentence?
Nothing will force Pakistan (to withdraw the death sentence).
The question is: Is there (a system) of appeal? Nobody knows what is their system.
Even in the case of the 9/11 terrorists who were sentenced in the US, there was an opportunity of appeal. They could go in appeal.
But here (in the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav) there is nothing.
Will the diplomatic relationship between the two countries head downhill from here?
It is definitely going to be affected.
I am sure the Government of India will take some retaliatory action after getting the complete facts in this case.
Has the government been caught off guard?
I can't say that; I don't know if they had any secret information about this (the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan) but there was nothing in the public domain.
What would be your advice to the Indian government?
We have to hit them back, but hit them in such a manner where it hurts them the most. And what that could be, only the people in office will be best suited to judge.
As a retired officer I will not be able to say anything, but we have to hit them back.
We have to take this to the international capitals. We have to tell the big powers like the US, Russia, China and take this up strongly at the UN level.
Can the government take this issue to the UN Security Council or to the UN?
I am not very sure (about that). The only thing we must tell them is 'This man was not arrested (in Pakistan)'. There was a report that he was kidnapped from Iran... we don't know unless Iran supports (us on this fact).
I am not sure whether the UN Charter will allow an individual case to be taken up at the UN.
But we can definitely take it up with the respective big powers at the highest level.