ISLAMABAD: Deputy High Commissioner of India Gaurav Ahluwalia leaving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Deputy High Commissioner of India Gaurav Ahluwalia leaving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday provided second consular access to convicted Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav.

“Two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav at 1500 hours,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

The development came a week after the disclosure about Jadhav turning down an offer to file a review petition against his conviction and was seen by many as a sign that some Indian diplomat would shortly be availing the concession offered through an ordinance promulgated on May 20.

The first consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 was provided by Pakistan on Sept 2, 2019. The mother and wife of Jadhav were also allowed to meet him on Dec 25, 2017.

Commander Jadhav is in Pakistan’s custody following his arrest from Balochistan in a counter-intelligence operation on March 3, 2016. During investigation, the Indian spy confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities inside Pakistan that resulted in loss of many precious human lives. He also made important revelations about Indian spy agency RAW’s role in sponsoring state terrorism in Pakistan.

Slamming Delhi’s attitude, FM Qureshi says Pakistan has presented all facts to the world

“Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) judgement of July 17, 2019. It is hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, while speaking at a weekly press briefing, reiterated Pakistan’s offer to India to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against Jadhav’s conviction. “The time limit for filing a review petition is 60 days. We hope that India will cooperate in this regard,” she said.

In a statement issued shortly after the FO briefing, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Jadhav had confessed to terrorism. “We accepted the decision of the ICJ, [but] India’s attitude has always been negative in this regard and they have not shown cooperation. However, our thinking is positive and we have presented all the facts to the world. We are proceeding forward within the parameters of the law,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said the current Indian government had an extremist mindset which did not care for human rights or the law. “China has tried to improve relations between the two countries, but even China was not spared,” he said, adding that they also targeted Bangladesh and their attitude with Sri Lanka was in front of the world.

“India is facing setbacks at the global level. If the current Hindutva mindset continues to prevails, then we cannot expect any improvement,” he noted.

The FO spokesperson had last week said that Pakistan had invited India to file a review and reconsideration petition after refusal by Jadhav. She explained that mercy petition in the Jadhav case was a separate process that had nothing to do with the review and reconsideration petition.

“The review and reconsideration petition can be filed by (a) commander Jad­hav himself, (b) legally autho­rised representative, or (c) a consular officer of the Indian High Commission. While commander Jadhav’s mercy petition is still pending, India is invited to file review and reconsideration petition to give effect to the judgement of the International Court of Justice,” the FO statement had said.

On July 17, 2019, the ICJ had rejected remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court’s decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India. Announcing the verdict, Judge Abdulqavi Ahmed Yousaf had asked Pakistan to review the death sentence for Jadhav and said Islamabad had violated his rights to consular visits.

The tribunal in The Hague had ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”. “A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav,” it had ruled.

The court, while finding Jadhav guilty of committing terrorist activities inside Pakistan, had ordered that the Indian spy could not be handed over to India; he would remain in Pakistan’s custody.

The government said Jadhav was a serving commander in the Indian Navy who was involved in subversive activities inside Pakistan and arrested on March 3, 2016 during a counter-intelligence operation in Mashkel, Balochistan.

The Indian government recognised Jadhav as a former naval officer, but denied any current links with him and maintained that he took premature retirement and was abducted from Iran.

On March 25, 2016, the Inter-Services Public Relations released a confessional statement of Jadhav who admitted that he was a serving Indian Navy officer. On April 8, 2017, the ISPR lodged an FIR against Jadhav.

On April 11, 2017, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed death sentence of Jadhav who was tried through the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under the Pakistan Army Act. The FGCM found Jadhav guilty of all the charges. He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities aimed at destabilising Pakistan.

On May 8, 2017, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav. On May 18, 2017, the ICJ had stayed the execution of Jadhav pending the final judgement in the case. On July 13, 2018, the court had in its verdict stayed his execution in Pakistan.

Indian statement

Meanwhile, India said its diplomats protested and left the meeting with Jadhav, alleging that an agreement to allow “unimpeded” consular access had not been honoured by Pakistani officials, Reuters adds.

According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the consular officers left after protesting that the access did not permit free conversation as was agreed a few days earlier with Pakistan. “Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Shri Jadhav and Consular Officers despite the protests of the Indian side,” the MEA said in a statement, adding that the conversation was also recorded.

Indian officials said they were prevented from obtaining Jadhav’s written consent to arrange legal representation, necessary for a review of his case.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2020