Pakistan risks fallout after army decides to execute Indian ‘spy’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 10:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 10:13pm

Pakistan will execute an Indian man arrested in the southwestern province of Balochistan last year who officials claim has confessed to being a spy for Indian intelligence, the country’s powerful military said yesterday.

The man, named as Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav who also goes by the alias Hussein ­Mubarak Patel, was found guilty by a military court and sentenced to death.

“Today, [army chief] General Qamer Javed Bajwa has confirmed his death sentence,” a military statement said, without stating when the execution would take place.

India has denied he was a spy, calling the claims “baseless”. There was no immediate reaction from New Delhi to yesterday’s ­announcement.

The nuclear arch-rivals ­routinely accuse one another of sending spies into their countries, and it is not uncommon for either nation to expel diplomats accused of espionage, particularly at times of high tension. However, death sentences have rarely been issued in such cases recently.

In 2013, an Indian national sentenced to death for spying in Pakistan was killed in jail after being attacked by fellow inmates. Sarabjit Singh had been on death row for 16 years.

In 1999, another Indian man, Sheikh Shamim, was hanged in a Pakistani jail almost 10 years after he was caught “red handed” near the border and arrested on charges of spying.

Pakistani analyst Hassan ­Askari said the decision would “further increase tension between the two countries”.

“The military has given a ­severe punishment which is ­according to Pakistani law,” he said. “But we will have to see if ­Pakistan can sustain the political and diplomatic fallout.”

Relations between the two countries have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir in September, which New Delhi blamed on the ­Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing.

Kashmir has been divided ­between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full. The neighbours have fought three wars since independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over Kashmir.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest but least developed province, has been battling a years-long separatist insurgency that the army has repeatedly characterised as “terrorism” promoted by hostile states such as India.