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'A Military Response to Jadhav's Death Sentence Should be Last Resort'

With a Pakistani military court sentencing Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death, India is considering various ways to ensure that it does not happen.

Shreya Dhoundial | CNN-News18

Updated:April 11, 2017, 9:02 PM IST

With a Pakistani military court sentencing Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to death, India is considering various ways to ensure that it does not happen. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Sushma Swaraj assured the Parliament that the government will do whatever it takes to bring Jadhav back.

In an exclusive interview with CNN-News18's Shreya Dhoundial, General Syed Ata Hasnain speaks if India will flex military muscle to free arrested alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav from Pak jail.

Shreya Dhoundial (SD): Is a military option a possibility as response?

General Syed Ata Hasnain (Gen. Hasnain): A military option is always the last resort. It is not something that can be very frivolously pandered about. So, I would say that yes, under the circumstances, with serious developments no doubt, the military would definitely have a warning on its hands. But, to say that that’s the first call to be taken and that’s the first action to be taken would be incorrect at this moment.

SD: The Pakistani media is calling the verdict unprecedented and have warned of a possible retaliation. What could they be talking about? Will the LoC heat up this summer?

Gen. Hasnain: In a situation such as this, one looks at the entire spectrum of options and I am sure at this moment this analysis is being done. So you are looking at a political, you are looking at the social, economic, diplomatic, option, everything. From the military angle, I would say start at the bottom end of the spectrum. We need not jump to the highest end of the spectrum. Definitely a symbolic message through an activation of the Line of Control is very much possible under the circumstances.

SD: There are also reports of a Pakistani army officer who has gone missing in Nepal near Lumbini and Pakistan looking at a swap using Jadhav as some kind of a bargaining chip. Do you buy that theory?

Gen. Hasnain: It is an awkward kind of a situation which has developed there because what I have heard is that this officer was actually looking for a job, some kind of an employment. He had been offered $ 8000 a month or something like that, it’s something very lucrative and he has gone there and suddenly disappeared. Whether it’s a quid pro quo happening, whether our own intelligence services are involved, I would not like to speculate on at this particular moment. But, these kinds of games which nations play, it does happen very often that you find that an odd case of a person being apprehended in one nation and you look for a quid pro quo in the other nation and then you have an exchange.

Under these circumstances of course it's very clear that Kulbhushan Jadhav's apprehension in Chabahar or wherever he was apprehended was something out of the blue and it was something which was absolutely unexpected. The manner in which the Pakistani government and the army have handled it is cause for a complete review of the kind of handling of the situation by any nation.

SD: You think that Jadhav's case is part of a larger strategic game, that he is just being used as a pawn?

Gen. Hasnain: If you look at the circumstances, it's almost a year plus, I think the 3rd of March 2016 when it actually happened under very suspicious circumstances. If you remember at that particular time there was a build up on the Indian diplomatic side on the visit of our Prime Minister to Tehran, the Chabahar deal was in the offing. I'm sure that this is something that which Pakistan must have been looking at very carefully, because we all understand that the one thing which Pakistan always denies to India is access to Afghanistan, central Asia. Here, we are looking for a manoeuvre by which through Chabahar, we were looking at access to the central Asian republics and Afghanistan and this agreement would have actually put the Pakistani side on the defensive in a very big way. Was it, therefore, these circumstances, this impending visit to Tehran, which led the Pakistanis to try an action of subterfuge to bring Kulbhushan Jadhav to or apprehend him at that particular time? They were, perhaps, just fortunate that they had an ex-Indian armed forces officer who had left the Navy prematurely and was running his own business in Chabahar. It may have been just circumstantial that they managed to apprehend him and use him to advantage.

SD: Why was Jadhav tried under military law?

Gen. Hasnain: We know very well that who rules the roost in Pakistan, the military. To say that Pakistan is a full-fledged democracy would be a sham. Under the civil legal process, this case would probably not go anywhere. Therefore, they decided, first of all, to brand Jadhav as a serving naval officer and then apply Pakistan military law to him. Under those circumstances, they carried out what is called a Field General Court Martial, which in the Indian case is what is called a Summary General Court Martial. Now, also, you must understand that while in the case of FGCM in India, you have a court of appeal which is the Armed Forces Tribunal in which you have a civilian Judge and a retired military officer, in the case of Pakistan that is not true. You have an Appellate Tribunal, a Military Appellate Tribunal as the next court. All the people in that are all serving military officers, and once the Pakistan Army chief has given his approval to whatever sentence has been given, there is no way to counter it.

| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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