By: Radhakrishna NS
INDIA’S deputy high commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia on Monday (2) met death-row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav after Pakistan granted consular access to him “in line with the ICJ judgement”.
The meeting between Ahluwalia and the retired Indian Navy officer is currently underway at a sub-jail after Pakistan formally granted the consular access to him, the Dawn News reported.
Before meeting Jadhav, the senior Indian diplomat met Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal at the foreign ministry.
The meeting between Ahluwalia and Jadhav came a month after a similar interaction between Indian officials and the Indian prisoner failed to materialise amid differences between New Delhi and Islamabad on the terms of the consular access.
Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.
On Sunday (1), foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted that consular access for Jadhav will be provided on September 2 “in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement and the laws of Pakistan”.
The consular access to Jadhav came amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions, which spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.
On August 7, Pakistan expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria after it downgraded the diplomatic ties with India over the Kashmir issue.
India had demanded “immediate, effective and unhindered” consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with Islamabad through diplomatic channels.
However, it is not yet clear if the consular access provided on Monday was unhindered as demanded by India.
On August 1, Pakistan foreign office said the retired Indian Navy officer will be granted consular access the next day. However, the meeting, which was scheduled for 15.00 local time on August 2, did not materialise amid differences between India and Pakistan on the terms of the consular access to Jadhav.
On July 17, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
One of the conditions put by Pakistan reportedly was the presence of a Pakistani official when Jadhav is allowed to meet Indian officials as part of the consular access.
India did not agree to the condition, making clear its position that the consular access must be “unimpeded” and should be in the light of the judgement by the ICJ.
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, after he reportedly entered from Iran.
However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.