India gets second consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav
Pakistan on Thursday provided Indian officials consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval officer sentenced to death for alleged involvement in espionage, for only the second time since he was detained in March 2016.
The Indian side took up Pakistan’s offer only after receiving assurances regarding unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Jadhav, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“India has been requesting for unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Kulbushan Jadhav. On the basis of assurances provided, our officials proceeded for the meeting [on Thursday],” Srivastava told a weekly news briefing.
The Indian side will assess the situation and comments on the matter after the officials who met Jadhav submit a report, he said.
The timing of the meeting was crucial as it was held just four days before the expiry of a deadline for Jadhav, his legal representative or the Indian government to file a review petition in the Islamabad high court under an ordinance promulgated by the Pakistan government.
Unlike the past meetings with Jadhav, which were high-profile affairs, Pakistani authorities did not release any photos or video footage of Thursday’s meeting that was kept tightly under wraps.
Before the meeting, India had made it clear that the Pakistani side couldn’t impose conditions such as making audio and video recordings of the conversation or insisting that Jadhav and the officials speak only in English, people familiar with developments said.
A statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry said consular access to Jadhav, 50, was provided for the second time following an Indian request. Consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations was first provided in September 2019, while Jadhav’s mother and wife were allowed to meet him in December 2017.
“Two consular officers of the Indian high commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to…Jadhav at 1500 hours,” the statement said.
The statement repeated Pakistan’s accusations that Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 and that he had “confessed” to his involvement in terrorist activities. India has already dismissed such charges and said the former naval officer was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence operatives from Iran’s Chabahar port, where he was running a business.
Earlier this month, India had accused Pakistan of coercing Jadhav not to file a petition seeking a review of his case and of not complying with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict to review his conviction.
New Delhi’s response came after senior Pakistani officials contended Jadhav had refused to file an appeal in the Islamabad high court against the death sentence given by a military court. The Pakistani officials had also said Jadhav preferred to follow up his pending mercy petition.
ICJ had ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and stayed his execution while calling on Islamabad to take all steps for an “effective review and reconsideration” of his sentence, including “enacting appropriate legislation”.
The Pakistan foreign ministry’s statement said the country “remains committed to fully implementing the ICJ’s judgment of July 17, 2019” and “hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement”.
India has pushed for the full implementation of ICJ’s judgment and sought unimpeded access to Jadhav to discuss his remedies under the new Pakistani ordinance.
Pakistan also rejected numerous requests from India for free and unimpeded access to Jadhav. India has also repeatedly asked for a lawyer from outside Pakistan to be allowed to appear for Jadhav in any review proceedings but Islamabad has denied this.