Pakistan offers India consular access to Jadhav for a third time: FO

17 Jul 2020

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Kulbhushan Jadhav — a serving commander of the Indian Navy associated with Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing — was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan on allegations of espionage and terrorism. — Dawn/File
Kulbhushan Jadhav — a serving commander of the Indian Navy associated with Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing — was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan on allegations of espionage and terrorism. — Dawn/File

Pakistani authorities offered on Friday to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav for a third time, a day after India's diplomats stormed out of a meeting with the spy.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui confirmed the development, saying that this time, Pakistan has offered to give consular access without the presence of a security guard.

The spokesperson told DawnNewsTV that a written offer has been made to India and a response is awaited. She said that the offer was made as a "goodwill gesture".

The development comes a day after two officials from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad — who had been provided consular access for a second time to Jadhav at New Delhi's request — left without hearing him out, claiming they were not provided “unimpeded” consular access.

Yesterday, Indian diplomats were allowed to hold a meeting with Jadhav a week after the disclosure that the spy had turned down an offer to file a review petition against his conviction.

The development was seen by many as a sign that some Indian diplomats may consider availing the concession offered through an ordinance promulgated on May 20, which allowed Jadhav to file a review petition — directly or through the Indian government or his legal representative — in Islamabad High Court (IHC) within 60 days. The limit expires on July 19.

In a statement released yesterday, the FO spokesperson said two consular officers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were provided "unimpeded and uninterrupted access to Jadhav at 1500 hours".

"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," the FO statement read.

"India's ill intentions have come to light," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said yesterday after the diplomats left without meeting Jadhav. "They didn't want consular access. [Jadhav] kept asking the Indian diplomats to talk to him and they left."

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, however, said its diplomats had protested and left the meeting with Jadhav, claiming that an agreement to allow “unimpeded” consular access had not been honoured by Pakistani officials, Reuters reported.

“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.

ICJ verdict

Jadhav — a serving commander of the Indian Navy associated with Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing — was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan on allegations of espionage and terrorism.

In his trial at a military court after his arrest, Jadhav had confessed to his involvement in terrorist plots in Pakistan. He was subsequently sentenced to death in 2017. However, India insisted that Jadhav was not a spy and said he was kidnapped from Iran.

On April 10, 2017, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa endorsed the death penalty for Jadhav. In June 2017, the Indian spy had filed a mercy petition against his death penalty, in which he again confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities.

However, before Pakistani authorities could make a final decision, the ICJ, after being approached by India, had ordered a stay in his execution through an interim order in 2019.

Later that year, ICJ announced its verdict, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asked Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”.

The ICJ, however, rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistan from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav's release and ordering his return to India.

The ICJ said that even though it had found Pakistan in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), "it is not the conviction and sentence of Mr. Jadhav which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention."

The most the ICJ said it could do was to order Pakistan to cease violation of Article 36 and review the case in light of how that violation may have affected the case's outcome.

"The Court notes that Pakistan acknowledges that the appropriate remedy in the present case would be effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence," it observed.

To this end, Pakistan was directed to immediately inform Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, grant India consular access, and then review the case while considering, under the laws of Pakistan, how not doing so earlier may have impacted the case's outcome.