New Delhi: Responding to Pakistan’s offer of arranging a meeting between former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife, India has asked that his mother be allowed to meet him too and has also demanded that an Indian diplomat be present in the meeting.
This April, a Pakistan military court imposed the death sentence on Jadhav, claiming that he was a serving Indian officer who had been involved in espionage and terror attacks. India strongly denied Pakistan’s allegation, noting that Jadhav had already retired from the Indian navy. The International Court of Justice has stayed the execution of the sentence.
On November 10, Pakistan offered to allow Jadhav’s wife to visit him during his incarceration. About a week later, India gave its official reply to Islamabad.
In its first official statement on the latest twist in the Jadhav saga, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday that India had “responded positively” to the offer to arrange a meeting of Jadhav with his wife, despite a pending “longstanding request” from his mother.
Thereafter, he delineated four provisos, which include the wish of Jadhav’s wife “to travel with her mother-in-law for the meeting”.
The government of Pakistan was asked to give a solemn promise about the well-being of the duo and assure that they will not subjected to interrogation during their Pakistani sojourn.
“We have also sought sovereign guarantee from the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of the wife and the mother of Mr. Jadhav and that they shall not be questioned, harassed or interrogated during their visit and stay in Pakistan,” said Kumar.
Crucially, India asked Pakistan to agree to the presence of an Indian official even at the meeting of wife and mother with Jadhav.
“We have further asked that a diplomat of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad shall be allowed to accompany them at all times, including during the meeting,” he said.
This is a significant demand as so far, Pakistan has refused to allow Jadhav any contact with Indian government officials, either during his trial or after his sentencing. In fact, the main basis of India’s case against Pakistan in the International Court of Justice is Islamabad’s violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not responding to 13 Indian requests for consular access to Jadhav.
In Islamabad, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal confirmed that India had asked for Jadhav’s mother to meet him. “The Indian request is under consideration,” he said on Thursday.
Sources said that India will decide the way forward only after getting Pakistan’s response. There could be further exchange of notes to tweak the conditions, if required.
The Indian foreign office spokesperson added that the “meeting offer does not absolve Pakistan of the violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and not following due process in treating Mr. Jadhav who remains incarcerated in Pakistan and faces death sentence through a farcical process and on concocted charges.”
He indicated that India will go ahead with the case against Pakistan. “While the government hopes that Pakistan would facilitate a visit by the wife and mother of Mr. Jadhav, we are determined to pursue all measures with full vigour so as to secure the final release of an innocent Indian,” said Kumar.
India had submitted its written submissions to the ICJ in September, with Pakistan scheduled to provide its counter-response in writing by next month.