ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian citizen sentenced to death for spying in Pakistan has admitted espionage and filed a mercy petition with the chief of army staff, the Pakistan military said on Thursday, a statement India dismissed as a farce.
Former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested last year in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, the site of a long-running conflict between the Pakistan military and separatist insurgents.
“Commander Jadhav has admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of any precious lives and extensive damage to property due to his actions,” Pakistan’s military said in a statement, adding that he had asked for mercy on “compassionate grounds”.
India dismissed the Pakistan military’s statement as an attempt to influence the proceedings of the World Court where India has sought justice for Jadhav.
It renewed its demand for consular access to Jadhav and the grant of visas to his family to meet him in prison.
“The details and circumstances of the alleged mercy petition by Mr Jadhav are not clear and even the fact of its existence is doubtful, shrouded as the proceedings against Mr Jadhav have been in opacity,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ties between the nuclear-armed bitter foes remain difficult and on Thursday there was fresh fighting on the disputed border in Kashmir, at the heart of 70 years of animosity.
Armed intruders from Pakistan crossed the Line of Control or the de facto border separating Kashmir between the two countries and killed two Indian soldiers, the Indian military said on Friday.
Fighting on the border has flared through the summer and the Indian army has vowed firm action to avenge the losses.
After Jadhav was sentenced to death in April, India asked the World Court for an injunction to bar the execution, arguing that he was denied diplomatic assistance during what it terms as an unfair trial.
The World Court ordered Pakistan in May to delay Jadhav’s execution. It argued that Islamabad violated a treaty guaranteeing diplomatic assistance to foreigners accused of crimes.
Pakistan authorities say Jadhav confessed to being assigned by India’s intelligence service to organise espionage and sabotage in Baluchistan “aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan”.
Baluchistan is at the centre of a $57 billion Chinese-backed “Belt and Road” development project that first focused on Chinese firms building roads and power stations but is now expanding to include setting up industries.
In a transcript released by Pakistan, Jadhav says disrupting the Chinese-funded projects was a main goal of his activities.
Reporting by Saad Sayeed in ISLAMABAD, Sanjeev Miglani in NEW DELHI and Fayaz Mukhari in SRINAGAR. Editing by Pritha Sarkar