Pakistan on Sunday denied India consular access to convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav who was sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Pakistan on charges of espionage and terrorism earlier this year.
A day earlier, as Pakistan and India exchanged lists of prisoners under the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access, with India reiterating its commitment "to addressing on priority all humanitarian matters with Pakistan", the Indian Ministry of External Affairs renewed its demand for consular access to Jadhav.
India called on the Pakistani government for the "early release and repatriation of Indian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats whose nationality has been confirmed by India".
The Foreign Office (FO), however, rejected New Delhi's demand for consular access to Jadhav, stating the equating the case of the Indian spy to civilian prisoners was a "travesty of logic".
Considering Jadhav an ordinary prisoner is an Indian attempt to deny facts, the FO said.
"Commander Jadhav is a serving Indian Naval officer and sent to Pakistan by its intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for espionage, terrorism and subversive activities which resulted in loss of many innocent lives and damage to property."
The FO added that five Indian nationals who had completed their sentences were repatriated on June 22, but 20 Pakistani civilian prisoners who had completed their sentences in India were still awaiting repatriation, whereas consular access to 107 Pakistani fishermen and 85 civilian Pakistani prisoners is also pending.
The FO also noted that two boys, Ali Raza and Babar Ali, who had crossed the border into Indian territory "inadvertently" had been repatriated after a year's delay.
"Pakistan has implemented the bilateral consular agreement in letter and spirit and is committed to ensuring that humanitarian cases are not held hostage to politics. We expect India to reciprocate through action rather then rhetoric," the FO said.
Progress on the release of prisoners has been impeded due to tense relations between the two countries, with the release of civilian prisoners and fishermen taking longer periods even after they have completed their sentences.
A joint judicial commission for addressing the issues of fishermen and other prisoners has been inactive since October 2013, when the Pakistani officials of the commission visited Indian jails.
India has petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for consular access to Jadhav, a RAW agent who was convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal on charges of espionage and terrorism.
The ICJ has stayed Jadhav’s execution pending its final verdict in the case.