Pakistan to give third consular access to Jadhav, but will it be ‘unimpeded’?
An ex-Indian naval official, Kulbhushan Jadhav has been sentenced to death by Pakistan’s military court for alleged involvement in espionage.
A day after India expressed its unhappiness over denial of “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional” consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, Islamabad on Friday decided to give a third consular access to the ex-Indian naval official who has been in the custody of Pakistan since 2016.
In a press release, the Pakistan Foreign Office said Indian authorities have been formally informed about the decision and that their response is awaited.
“The third consular access would be without the presence of security personnel,” said the spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Office.
On Thursday, India accused Pakistan of breaching its assurance of unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Kulbhushan Jadav.
It also said that Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and Consular officers. It also maintained that Indian Consular officers’ conversation with Jadhav was being recorded by a camera which was visible from even a distance.
“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,” the MEA spokesperson said.
In sharp contrast, Pakistan presented a concocted story, saying Indian officials who came to meet Jadhav on Thursday left without hearing him out.
“He (Jadhav) kept asking Indian diplomats to talk to him, but they left,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.
Experts say Islamabad is trying to show the world that it is committed to fulfill assurances of providing unhindered consular access to Jadhav, but it is India which is not willing to accept the offer.
“Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s judgment of 17 July 2019, said the Pakistan Foreign Office.
But this claim was trashed by India, stating, “Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgment, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance.”
In May 2020, Pakistan passed an ordinance, ostensibly to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice. It inter-alia envisaged the Consular officer of the High Commission of India filing a petition before a High Court for the relevant review and reconsideration.
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.
“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,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.