NEW DELHI: India has informed Pakistan that it wants one of its officials to accompany the wife of espionage convict Kulbhushan Jadhav when she meets him in Pakistan, Indian Express said on Thursday.

India has also sought a sovereign guarantee from Pakistan that Jadhav’s family members would not be harassed or questioned when they visit him, the paper said, adding that Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s message.

Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was arrested in Pakistan on espionage charges.

The Pakistan government, earlier this month, had agreed to let Jadhav meet his wife on “humanitarian gro­unds”. “The government of Pakis­tan has decided to arrange a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav with his wife, in Pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a statement, adding the meeting will take place on Pakistani soil.

Hoping that Pakistan would facilitate visit by the wife and mother of the Indian convict, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the government was determined to “pursue all measures” with “full vigour” so as to secure the final release of an innocent Indian.

“Such a meeting offer does not absolve Pakistan of the violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Human Rights and not following the due process in treating Jadhav who remains incarcerated in Pakistan and faces death sentence through a farcical process and on concocted charges,” Mr Kumar was quoted as saying during a media briefing.

The Express said Pakistan’s offer to allow Jadhav’s wife to meet him had taken the Indian side by surprise. It quoted sources as saying that Delhi’s response was sent last week in the form of a note verbale.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry on Saturday had confirmed receiving the response and said that it was being considered.

The Express quoted media reports as linking Pakistan’s offer as an attempt to counter India’s argument at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Jadhav was denied any consular access.

Other reports also hinted that the issue was discussed in a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and the newly-appointed Pakistani High Commis­sioner to New Delhi, Sohail Mahmood.

Pakistan, however, has insisted that the arrangement was being made purely on humanitarian grounds, the Express said.

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April on charges of espionage and terrorism. The ICJ, in May, had stayed his execution on India’s appeal.

Pakistan has denied India consular access to Jadhav on the ground that it was not applicable in cases related to spies.

While Pakistan claims that Jadhav was arrested by security forces from Balochistan province on March 3 last year after he reportedly entered from Iran, the Indian side maintains he was kidnapped from Iran where he developed business after retiring from the navy.

The ICJ has asked Pakistan to submit its response or memorial by Dec 13, before the court could start further proceedings in the case, according to the Express.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017

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