After a prolonged battle between the two countries which even forced New Delhi to knock at the doors of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan on Monday granted India consular access to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. But New Delhi was not impressed with the whole exercise and claimed that Jadhav appeared “under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to Pakistan’s untenable claims” during his meeting with India’s Charge d’ Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia.
”We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Cd’A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to a question.
He said today’s consular access was a part of the binding obligations of Pakistan, as ordered by the ICJ, to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a “farcical process” by a military court in Pakistan.
The spokesperson said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has spoken to the mother of the Indian prisoner, who is on death row in the neighbouring country on charges of espionage and terrorism, and briefed her of today’s developments. ”The Government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India,” Kumar added.
Pakistan, however, claimed that there was no restriction on the language of communication between the Indian diplomat and Jadhav. “Consular access was provided at 1200 hrs (PST) and lasted two hours in the presence of officials of the Government of Pakistan. In order to ensure transparency and in line with standard operating procedures and as conveyed to the Indian side in advance, the access was recorded,” the Pakistan foreign office said in a press release.
Jadhav’s meeting with the Indian diplomat came after an earlier attempt to provide consular access in early August failed. The meeting between Ahluwalia and Jadhav was held at a sub-jail. Before meeting Jadhav, Ahluwalia met Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal at the foreign ministry.
Pakistan had arrested Jadhav in March 2016 and informed India about it in April 2016. After Jadhav’s sentencing in 2017, India moved ICJ in The Hague, seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.
On Sunday, the Pakistani spokesman tweeted that consular access to Jadhav would be provided on 2 September “in line with Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, ICJ judgement & the laws of Pakistan”.
The consular access to the Indian prisoner came amid fresh Indo-Pak tensions after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
On 7 August, Pakistan expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria after it downgraded diplomatic ties with India over the Kashmir issue.