A day after India reacted strongly to Pakistan military court’s decision to execute alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Islamabad wants good relations with its neighbours.
He said that Pakistan is a peace loving country but this should not be seen as a sign of weakness. “Cooperation rather than conflict and shared prosperity instead of suspicion are the hallmark of our policy,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying. He was addressing cadets at the Asghar Khan Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur.
“We cannot remain oblivious to defending our sovereignty and protecting our independence.”
Sharif’s remarks came a day after Pakistan awarded death sentence to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav on charges of espionage and waging war against Islamabad. India has warned that if Jadhav was hanged, it would have consequences on bilateral ties.
It was reported on Monday that a Pakistani military court has found Jadhav guilty of "involvement in espionage and sabotage activities" against the country.
Amid rising tensions with India, Sharif on Tuesday described Pakistan as a peace-loving country.
“Pakistan is a peace-loving country. It has maintained good relations with its neighbours. We want cooperation, not conflicts. Pakistan will not hesitate to extend a hand of friendship,” Sharif said.
The Pakistani PM, however, added that his country's armed forces “were fully capable of and prepared” to respond to any threat.
The death sentence to Jadhav, 46, was confirmed by Pakistani Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa after the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) found him guilty of "all the charges", said the military's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
According to the ISPR statement, Jadhav, a Commander in the Indian Navy, "confessed" before a Magistrate and the court that he was "tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi."
Jadhav was "arrested" on March 3 last year by Pakistani security forces in the restive Balochistan province after he reportedly entered from Iran. Pakistan has alleged that Jadhav was "a serving officer" in the Indian Navy and deputed to the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
The Pakistan Army had released a "confessional video" of Jadhav after his arrest.
India has acknowledged that Jadhav served with the Navy but denied he has any connection with the government. "The individual has no link with the government since his premature retirement from Indian Navy," the External Affairs Ministry had said in a statement in March last year.
India had demanded Consular access to Jadhav, but Pakistan repeatedly denied Indian officials access to him. The ISPR statement, however, said Jadhav, alias Hussein Mubarak Patel, was "provided with defending officer as per legal provisions".
(With inputs from agencies)