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Diplomatic Efforts to Save Indian Naval Veterans in Qatar.



  Oct 30, 2023

India's Diplomatic and Strategic Avenues for Naval Veterans Sentenced in Qatar



Eight Indian Naval veterans were recently sentenced to death in Qatar on charges of espionage.
As the Ministry of External Affairs awaits the detailed judgment, various experts have proposed multiple paths that India could take to negotiate the release or repatriation of the convicted individuals.

Multiple Avenues for Intervention

According to Syed Akbaruddin, a former Indian envoy to the United Nations, India has several options for intervention beyond just legal appeals.
For instance, the final say on the sentence could rest with Qatar’s head of state, providing an additional route for diplomatic efforts.
A 2015 agreement between India and Qatar also exists that allows for the transfer of sentenced persons between the two countries, providing another possible avenue for the repatriation of the convicted veterans.

Defense Pact and Strategic Ties

India and Qatar have had a Defense Cooperation Agreement since 2008, which has been extended every five years—the latest extension being in 2018.
This pact could also be leveraged to negotiate the situation, considering that India offers training slots in its defense institutions for Qatari military personnel and also participates in defense exhibitions in Qatar.

Quiet Diplomacy

Experts like former Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad have emphasized the necessity of "behind-the-scenes" bilateral consultations at the senior-most levels.
Ahmad noted that given the sensitivity of the matter and the high stakes involved, particularly considering the large Indian workforce in Qatar, the issue should not be discussed openly.
He added that there might be a possibility for a royal pardon, given the high-value relationship that Qatar's royal family has with India.

India's Diplomatic Challenge in Qatar Mystery Trial

Key Points

Shocking Verdict: Eight Indian nationals have been sentenced to death in Qatar for alleged espionage, creating a diplomatic crisis for India.

Lack of Transparency: The trial was conducted in secrecy, and neither the families nor the Indian government have been provided with case details or the judgment.

Strategic Importance: India's ties with Qatar are multifaceted, including defense partnerships and 40% of its LNG supplies, which increases the sensitivity of the case.

Immediate Action Needed: The Indian government must act swiftly to formulate a strategy for appeal and possible clemency for its citizens.

Recommendations

Take quick legal action for the appeal process.

Engage in high-level diplomacy with Qatari leadership.

Advocate for clemency and a potential conversion of the sentences to jail terms in India.

Reiterate the government's commitment to "no Indian left behind," emphasizing that these men's lives are a priority.


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