A Pakistani military court sentenced an Indian accused of espionage to death on Monday, reports said. India has described the move as "premeditated murder."
Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav, who also goes by the alias Hussein Mubarak Patel, was arrested on March 3 last year in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan. The region is known for its long-running conflict between Pakistani security forces and a militant separatist movement.
The Pakistani military said in a statement that the accused man had confessed to being tasked by India's intelligence service with planning, coordinating and organising espionage and sabotage activities in Balochistan with the aim to "destabilise and wage war against Pakistan."
The military did not announce any date for the execution.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 10, 2017
India warns against hanging
New Delhi slammed Pakistan's decision, saying any move to execute the Indian national would be "premeditated murder."
"If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
— Gopal Baglay (@MEAIndia) April 10, 2017
The Indian foreign ministry said that there was no evidence against Jadhav, whom Indian media have described as a former naval officer. The statement added that the proceedings against Jadhav were"farcical."
Further flare-up of tensions
Pakistan accuses India of helping the separatist movement in Balochistan, a charge denied by India. In turn, the government in New Delhi says Pakistan aids rebel fighters in India-administered Kashmir, which Pakistan claims to be its territory.
Pakistan denies backing Kashmiri rebels, saying it only offers political support to the Muslim people of India-controlled Kashmir where rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years.
However, public opposition to Indian rule remains deep and is now principally expressed through street protests marked by youths hurling stones at government forces.
On Sunday, Indian soldiers and police shot dead eight civilians and injured over a hundred others who attacked polling stations where voting for a by-election was taking place.
Pro-Independence groups consider elections in Kashmir to be illegitimate, saying that India militarily occupies the region. India has long viewed polling as an endorsement of its control over a portion of Kashmir.
TRT World spoke to Kamran Yousaf in Islamabad, who said that the "latest decision will further flare-up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours."