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Kulbhushan Jadhav’s meeting with family obscured by glass screen, Pakistan PR

Kulbhushan Jadhav met his wife and mother at the foreign affairs ministry in Islamabad Monday, even as Pakistan bragged about “humanitarian grounds” and released a video showing Jadhav thanking the Pakistani government for arranging the meeting.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2017 20:40 IST
Kulbhushan Jadhav,Kulbhushan Jadhav meets family,Kulbhushan Jadhav wife
Former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's wife and mother meet him in Islamabad on Monday. PTI Photo / Twitter@foreignofficepk

Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying, met his wife and mother -- but they were separated by a glass screen -- in a carefully choreographed event that unfolded in tweets, photos and TV footage Monday. Soon after, a video surfaced showing Jadhav thanking the Pakistan government for arranging the 40-minute meeting. Here’s what transpired during the day:

The meeting

After many representations, it took place at the heavily guarded foreign affairs ministry building, and came after the International Court of Justice asked Pakistan in May to stay Jadhav’s execution. A Pakistani military court has sentenced the Indian prisoner to death on charges of spying. Monday was the fist time that Jadhav met his family since his arrest in March 2016.

Pakistan portrayed it as a humanitarian gesture to mark the birthday of the country’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted that the meeting was arranged in light of “Islamic traditions and based on purely humanitarian grounds.” The meeting started at around 1.35 pm and lasted about 45 minutes. Before the meeting, the security check of the family was performed.

All the information about the meeting emerged through Pakistani foreign ministry tweets and images.

“The mother and wife of Commander Jadhav sitting comfortably in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan. We honour our commitments,” foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted along with a picture of the visitors.

Pakistan had on December 20 issued visa to Jadhav’s wife and mother to visit Islamabad to meet him.

The wife, right, and mother, centre, of Kulbhushan Jadhav are escorted by an Indian diplomat after their meeting with Jadhav at the foreign ministry in Islamabad. ( AP )

Reunion behind closed doors

TV footage showed Jadhav’s mother Avanti and wife Chetankul entering the ministry building’s Agha Shahi Block, accompanied by India’s deputy high commissioner JP Singh and a Pakistani woman official. After they went in, the door shut behind them. TV footage showed a convoy of around seven vehicles escorting Jadhav’s family in the city.

The two women had arrived in Islamabad earlier Monday via Dubai on a commercial flight, and spent about 30 minutes at the Indian embassy before being driven to the foreign ministry. They are expected to stay at the Indian embassy for a few hours before returning to India in the evening.

Pakistan foreign office later released pictures of Jadhav talking to his wife and mother from behind a glass screen. The communication between them was through an intercom device. From Pakistan’s side, Foreign Office Director for India, Dr Fareha Bugti, was present at the meeting.

The wife and mother greeted media persons with a namaste after arriving at the ministry but did not respond to their questions. They also did not talk to the reporters while leaving the building, although journalists kept shouting questions.

Jadhav was at the ministry before his family arrived. It was not known where he had been kept before being transported to the foreign ministry.

Police and paramilitary security forces, including sharpshooters, were deployed at the ministry to deal with any untoward security situation, they said.

Former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's wife and mother meet him in Islamabad on Monday. PTI Photo / Twitter@foreignofficepk

The case

During a press conference, the foreign office spokesperson made old allegations against Jadhav.

Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the ICJ (International Court of Justice) in May. It is expected to hold another hearing in March or April.

India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.

Earlier Monday, foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told a Pakistani media channel that Pakistan has granted India consular access to Jadhav since an Indian diplomat will be accompanying the prisoner’s wife and mother.

In India, officials downplayed the comments, maintaining that the Indian diplomat was only accompanying Jadhav’s family and it cannot be construed as “consular access”.

First Published: Dec 25, 2017 17:42 IST