In a significant development, Pakistan on Friday announced that it has decided “purely on humanitarian grounds” to arrange a meeting between former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in the country, and his wife.
”A note verbale to this effect has been sent to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad today,” the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement which was also made available to the Indian media by the Pakistan mission in New Delhi.
There was no immediate response from India, which has repeatedly sought consular access to Jadhav. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is believed to have discussed the matter with senior officials of the ministry, including those dealing with Pakistan.
Jadhav was arrested by the Pakistani authorities from Balochistan after he reportedly entered from Iran in March last year. However, India maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
The sudden announcement by Islamabad came days after new Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and discussed bilateral issues. Jadhav’s issue is also believed to have figured during the meeting. India had also, meanwhile, asked Pakistan to grant a visa to Jadhav’s mother to enable her to meet her son.
Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and terrorism. After denial of consular access to Jadhav, India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is currently seized of the case. The ICJ had in May stayed his execution on India’s appeal. Jadhav had also filed a mercy petition before Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in June.