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Pak offers 3rd consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, accepts India’s demand of no security during meet: Report

The Indian government had on Thursday slammed Pakistan for intimidating and distressing its imprisoned citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav during the second consular access granted to its officials.

SNS | New Delhi |

Pakistan has offered a third consular access to India for Kulbhushan Jadhav and a note verbale has been sent meeting Delhi’s demand to not have a security personnel during the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was reported as saying by Islamabad media on Friday.

Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan had provided second consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav at India’s request.

Following this, the Indian government officials in Islamabad met Kulbhushan Jadhav after they were reportedly assured “unimpeded and unconditional consular access” to the former naval officer, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court for his alleged involvement in espionage activities in 2016.

“Two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav at 3 pm,” according to the Pakistna government.

The statement also said that Jadhav is in Pakistan’s custody following his arrest from Balochistan “in a counter-intelligence operation on March 3, 2016”.

However, the Indian government later in the day slammed Pakistan for intimidating and distressing its imprisoned citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav during the consular access granted to its officials.

Calling Pakistan “obstructive” and “insincere”, the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said that the consular access was “neither meaningful nor credible”.

In a statement issued by the ministry, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the Indian consular officers were “not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access” to Jadhav.

“On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and the consular officers despite protests from the Indian side. It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded,” the statement said.

“Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them. The consular officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation,” it added.

In the light of the circumstances, the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible, the government said, adding that the Indian consular officers left the venue after lodging a protest.

“It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance,” the spokesperson said.

The third consular access today comes in the wake claims made by New Delhi.

Stating that in May this year, Pakistan had passed an ordinance, “ostensibly to comply with the order of the ICJ and that the world court’s verdict in July last allowed for the consular officer of the High Commission of India to file a petition before a high court for relevant review and reconsideration, the government said, “In that context, the contacts and conversations between the consular officer and Jadhav assume great importance. Any conversation between them must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan”.

It is only then that Jadhav can speak freely without any concerns of reprisal as he remains in Pakistani custody after the meeting, the ministry said.

“It is already evident that Jadhav has been intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review,” it said.

India recently requested the Pakistani side for an unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to be provided on July 13.

“Pakistan was asked to ensure that the meeting is held in an atmosphere free from fear of retribution and without the presence of any Pakistani official in the vicinity of Jadhav and the Indian consular officers. Pakistan was also requested to not record (video and audio) the meeting,” the ministry said.

After extensive discussions, the Pakistani side conveyed that it was ready to organise consular access on July 16. The government said it was assured that the consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional.

“On the basis of this assurance by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, two consular officers of the High Commission proceeded to the meeting with Jadhav. Regrettably, however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan,” the ministry said.

Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has apprised the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav of the latest developments, the spokesperson said. The government also reiterated its commitment to ensure safe return of Jadhav to India.

The first consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) 1963 was provided by Pakistan on September 2, last year. The mother and wife of Jadhav were allowed to meet him on December 25, 2017.

Over the past year, India has requested Pakistan more than 12 times to provide unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Jadhav, who remains incarcerated in Pakistani custody since 2016.

Pakistan has claimed that it arrested Jadhav on 3 March 2016 when he attempted to cross over into the country from the Saravan border in Iran in pursuit of targets set by his RAW handlers. New Delhi has rubbished Pakistan’s claim, asserting that the Indian national was abducted by Pakistani agencies from Iran where he was running a business.

Pakistan subsequently conducted a farcical trial of Jadhav in a military court and sentenced him to death. Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, had endorsed the death penalty for Jadhav in April 2017. Following this, India approached the ICJ.

The world court on July 17, last year, ordered Pakistan not to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav and directed “effective review and reconsideration” of his conviction and the sentence awarded to him by a military court.

The world court, while rejecting all objections raised by Pakistan, directed it to grant consular access to Jadhav “without further delay”, while holding that it had “breached” the Vienna Convention in this regard by denying him this right.

The ICJ gave a detailed verdict rejecting all the objections of Pakistan, including one unanimously on the admissibility of the case and also the claims by Islamabad that India had not provided the actual nationality of Jadhav.

The verdict was 15 to one in favour of India – the lone dissenter being from Pakistan.

The ICJ, however, rejected India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release.

In May this year, Pakistan had said that it has “fully compiled” with the ICJ’s judgement in Jadhav case, days after India’s lead counsel asserted that New Delhi had hoped it might be able to persuade Islamabad through “back channel” to release the Indian death-row convict.