Iran has conveyed to Pakistan that it is investigating whether an Indian spy arrested last month in Balochistan crossed the border illegally or was picked up from its soil, The Express Tribune learnt from top government sources on Saturday.
Raw agent Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested on March 3, was deployed in Iran’s Chabahar port before crossing into Balochistan to meet some separatist leaders.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif took up the matter with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani during the latter’s recent visit to Islamabad. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also discussed the issue with Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Honardoost in a meeting last week.
According to sources, Iranian authorities have directly and indirectly conveyed to Pakistan that they were investigating whether or not Jadhav crossed into Pakistan illegally. India, which has already claimed Jadhav was picked up from the Iranian soil, is putting pressure on the Islamic Republic
to register a case against Pakistani agencies, sources added.
India is also seeking to enlist support of the United States, the United Kingdom and France to convince Iran to go by its claim that Jadhav was kidnapped from the Iranian soil, sources said. New Delhi has even threatened Tehran to choose between Pakistan and India, leaving the Islamic Republic in a quandary.
India is investing billions of rupees in the Special Economic Zone in Chabahar, a port New Delhi has partially built. Lying in the Gulf of Oman, Chabahar port gives India access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. Moreover, India also buys almost all of its oil from the Islamic Republic.
Pakistan has already handed over evidence regarding Jadhav’s arrest to key world powers, including the US and UK, but they have yet not responded, sources said. Interestingly, the same world powers had quickly responded when India approached them over the January 2 terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase. India blames Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group for carrying out the brazen assault that killed six Indian servicemen.
The chief military spokesperson, Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, said at a news briefing last week that Pakistan has ‘irrefutable evidence’ of Jadhav crossing over into Balochistan from Iran. Sources said Pakistan would present the evidence to the world, if Iran decided to follow the Indian version.
Iran asked for the exact timing of Jadhav’s arrest – which was readily provided, according to sources. The Islamic Republic suspected Jadhav had been missing for a few months – and not since March 3 when Pakistan claimed he was arrested.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2016.