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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Pakistan says consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav granted, India says it can’t be construed so

Kulbhushan Jadhav, a Indian naval officer facing the death penalty in Pakistan, will be meeting his mother and wife on Monday. The women are being accompanied by an Indian diplomat.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2017 12:04 IST

Press Trust of India, Islamabad
Mumbai residents take out a Bike bally in Paryer to support the safe release of Kulbushan Jadhav, on December 24, 2017.
Mumbai residents take out a Bike bally in Paryer to support the safe release of Kulbushan Jadhav, on December 24, 2017. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

Pakistan has granted India consular access to death-row prisoner and alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told a Pakistani media channel.

He said an official of the Indian High Commission would accompany Jadhav’s wife and mother during their meeting with him, Geo News reported.

When asked if it constituted “consular access as an Indian official would be present in the meeting”, Asif categorically said, “Yes”.

“Had India been in place of us, it would not have given us this concession,” he said.

The Pakistan foreign office earlier confirmed that the Indian deputy high commissioner JP Singh, will be allowed to remain present at the meeting at the foreign affairs ministry.

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

Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 after he entered Pakistan from Iran. The naval officer was then sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and terrorism. However, India managed to stay the execution by appealing to the International Court of Justice in May.

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

Security increased at foreign ministry

Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities said they have deployed sharpshooters at the foreign ministry’s office where Jadhav will be meeting his family.

The exact time of the meeting is not immediately known but officials said it would be around midday or early afternoon. The duration has also not been confirmed but it may last for an hour, according to sources in the Foreign Office.

Roads leading to the Constitution Avenue, on which the ministry is located, have been closed for traffic. Special security passes have been issued for those visiting the foreign office, the officials added.

Pakistan has announced it would issue photos and a video of the meeting and also allow the family to interact with media, if India agrees. Officials also said Jadhav’s family would not interact with the media.

First Published: Dec 25, 2017 11:06 IST