In the first instance of consular access granted to Kulbhushan Jadhav in three years, India’s Acting High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met the detained Indian national Monday in the presence of Pakistani officials. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting was recorded, but there was no restriction on the “language of communication” between Jadhav and Ahluwalia. In December 2017, when Jadhav’s mother and wife had met him in Islamabad, they were prevented by Pakistani officials from speaking in Marathi, their mother tongue.
It appears that India yielded to Pakistan’s terms for Monday’s meeting, although it had earlier asked for “full access” and raised concerns about privacy. After the meeting, New Delhi said Jadhav appeared to be under “extreme pressure” to support Islamabad’s “false narrative” in his case. India’s assertion came after Ahluwalia met Jadhav at 12.30 pm IST for “two hours”, a day after Pakistan granted consular access in line with a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Pakistan has accused Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, of espionage while India has maintained that he was running a business in Iran from where he was abducted and illegally taken to Pakistan.
Officials said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to Jadhav’s mother and briefed her about Monday’s meeting.
“Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He said the government will decide the next step after getting a “detailed report” about the meeting from Ahluwalia. According to Dawn, Pakistan’s leading newspaper, Ahluwalia met Jadhav at a “sub-jail”.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that pursuant to the ICJ decision, “Consular access was provided at 1200 hours and lasted for two (02) hours, in the presence of officials of the Government of Pakistan. On Indian request, there was no restriction on the language of communication. In order to ensure transparency and in line with standard operating procedures, and as conveyed to the Indian side in advance, the access was recorded.”
The spokesperson said that Pakistan “provided un-impeded, uninterrupted consular access to India to Jadhav”.
In a statement, MEA spokesperson Kumar said: “The Charge d’ Affaires, High Commission of India in Islamabad, met Kulbhushan Jadhav today. This meeting was held in the light of unanimous judgement of the International Court of Justice delivered on 17 July 2019, which found Pakistan in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 on many counts and ordered Pakistan to provide Indian consular officers access to Jadhav.”
It said: “While we await a comprehensive report, it was clear that Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims. We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Cd’A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives.”
It added: “Today’s consular access is a part of the binding obligations of Pakistan, as ordered by the ICJ, to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a farcical process.”
The spokesperson reiterated that the government remains committed to ensuring that Jadhav “receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India”.
Before the meeting Monday, government sources said India had been seeking consular access to Jadhav for the last three years, ultimately winning a favourable ruling from the ICJ.
Announcing the decision to grant consular access, Pakistan spokesperson Faisal tweeted Sunday: “Consular access for Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer and RAW operative, is being provided on Monday 2 September 2019, in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement & the laws of Pakistan. Commander Jadhav remains in Pakistan’s custody, for espionage, terrorism and sabotage.”
This was the second time that Pakistan offered consular access to Jadhav. India had rejected a previous offer in August saying that “full consular access” should be granted at the earliest in full compliance and conformity with the ICJ judgment and Vienna Convention.