• Saturday, June 15, 2024

ASIA

Is Pakistan behind 8 Indian Navy veterans getting death sentence in Qatar?

According to one Indian news report, military officials from Qatar and Pakistan held several meetings in the last one year and one of them took place just days ahead of Doha announced the verdict that shocked India.

Representational Image (iStock)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE India’s Narendra Modi government engaged with Qatari officials diplomatically over the death sentence the Middle Eastern nation gave to eight former officials of the Indian Navy and exploring legal options to deal with the case, speculation is rife that Pakistan might have a role in the matter.

According to a report by India’s Zee News, military officials from Qatar and Pakistan held several meetings in the last one year and one of them took place just days before Doha announced the verdict that shocked India.

The report said Salem Bin Hamad Al-Nabit, chief of staff of the Qatari Armed Forces, met the chief of the Pakistani Army, Lieutenant-General Syed Asim Munir, in Islamabad, on October12. While it was said that the meetings were about bolstering defence ties between the two nations, it was suspected that the Pakistani Army must have conspired against the Indians.

The Indian Navy veterans, who were handed the death penalty by a Qatari court on Thursday (26), were charged with spying for Israel, sources in both India and Qatar had said.

Before they were arrested, the eight individuals were working at Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a company that provides defence services. They had secured voluntary retirements from the navy.

The owner of the company where they worked was Khamis al-Ajmi, an Omani national and a retired squadron leader of the Royal Oman Air Force. He was also jailed along with the eight Indians but got released in November last year.

The former Indian Navy officials were arrested by Qatar’s State Security Bureau on August 30, 2022, on undeclared charges and kept in solitary confinement.

The Indian ministry of external affairs said it was “deeply shocked” by the verdict and said it was closely following the case.

The Indian government has extended all aid and is trying to get the officials out and reunite them with their families. They also filed at least eight bail pleas to the government of Qatar but all of them were reportedly rejected.

That India has been spending a whole lot of money in legal assistance in Qatar could be understood from a report that said the Indian mission in Doha saw more 11,000 per cent hike in expenditure for legal assistance compared to the previous year and this rise could be linked to the case involving the navy veterans.

India shares a good relationship with Qatar. Their ties have been improving since the late 2000s. Leaders of both nations have visited each other over the past years. Defence cooperation between New Delhi and Doha has been particularly strong and is also called the “pillar” of their bilateral terms. In 2021, India was among the top four export destinations for Qatar and among its top three sources of imports. The bilateral trade is valued at $15 billion (£12.3 billion), which is mostly LNG and LPG exports from the Middle Eastern nation.

It is now to be seen whether India can secure a diplomatic victory by releasing the naval veterans. 

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