New Delhi: One and half months after the International Court of Justice judgement, Pakistan announced on Sunday evening that it will grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav on September 2. On Monday morning, India accepted the offer.
“Today, after victory in the ICJ, India will be proceeding for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Indian CDA [Charge d’Affaires], Gaurav Ahluwalia, will be meeting Jadhav,” official sources said. “We hope that Pakistan will ensure the right atmosphere so that the meeting is free, fair, meaningful and effective in keeping with the letter and spirit of the ICJ orders.”
Just three days ago, India had reiterated that it wanted “unimpeded” access to Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court.
Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammed Faisal tweeted on Sunday evening that Jadhav would get consular access “in line with Vienna convention on consular relations, ICJ judgement and the laws of Pakistan”. The meeting is likely to take place around noon local time, as per media reports.
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.
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) September 1, 2019
While Pakistan claims that Jadhav is a serving officer who was taken into custody in Balochistan, India has asserted that he had retired from the Indian Navy and was kidnapped from Iran.
India dragged Pakistan to the International Court of Justice in 2017, when the latter refused to grant consular access to Jadhav despite repeated requests. Pakistan has claimed that consular access with India for individuals charged with espionage and terrorism is governed by a bilateral agreement.
The ICJ, however, agreed with India’s view through an order on July 17 that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s right under VCCR’s article 36. However, ICJ did not order Jadhav’s release, as India had asked, but instead called for a review of Jadhav’s trial in light of the violations of his rights.
Following the judgment, Pakistan first offered to hold the consular access on August 2, as per Pakistani laws. India had rejected the offer by stating that Pakistan had to provide “unimpeded consular access to Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav, in an environment free from the fear of intimidation and reprisal, in the light of the orders of the International Court of Justice”.
For India, “unimpeded” consular access means that Indian officials should be able to have a confidential conversation with Jadhav without any fear of being overheard by an escorting Pakistan official or through electronic surveillance. Pakistan, however, insists that there is no explicit provision for private conversations as per international law or domestic legislation.
Following the ICJ judgment, relations between India and Pakistan have further deteriorated over developments on Kashmir. There has been heightened rhetoric, but both sides have kept negotiations over consular access to Jadhav largely out of the media limelight.
Note: This article was published on September 1 and updated on September 2 at 10:30 am with India’s response to Pakistan’s offer.