Pak makes Jadhav parrot its claim to Indian diplomat

PTI photo

Even as Pakistan on Monday allowed a senior diplomat of India to meet Kulbhushan Jadhav, New Delhi accused Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's Government in Islamabad of forcing the former Indian Navy officer “to parrot a false narrative”. 

Jadhav appeared to be “under extreme pressure”, when India's Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, Gaurav Ahluwalia, met him in Islamabad, Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, said. 

Ahluwalia met Jadhav after Pakistan finally agreed to adhere to the July 17 judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and granted India consular access to him.  

The officials of Pakistan Government was present when New Delhi's deputy envoy to Islamabad met the former Indian Navy officer. They also recorded the meeting “in order to ensure transparency and in line with standard operating procedures”, according to a press-release issued by Mohamed Faisal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Government.

Jadhav was apparently intimidated by the presence of Pakistan Government officials and the audio-visual recording of his meeting with Ahluwalia and he appeared to be echoing what the neighbouring country's government earlier claimed about him and his activities, sources said in New Delhi. 

Jadhav, who has been in the custody of Pakistan Army at least since March 3, 2016, is on the death row as a military court in the neighbouring country awarded him capital punishment on April 10, 2017. He was accused and convicted of being involved in espionage and sabotage in the neighbouring country on behalf of the external intelligence agency of India. Islamabad on March 25, 2016, made public what it claimed to be a “confession video” of Jadhav, with him admitting on camera that he had been working for the RAW (Research and Analytical Wing) of India and “involved in crimes of espionage and terrorism directed toward the infrastructure and people of Pakistan”. 

When Ahluwalia met Jadhav on Monday, the 49-year-old appeared “to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative” to bolster the “untenable claims” of Pakistan, Kumar said in New Delhi. 

The government will decide on the next course of action after receiving the report from the High Commission of India in Pakistan on the meeting between Ahluwalia and Jadhav and “determining the extent of conformity with the ICJ directives”, the MEA spokesperson added. 

Ahluwalia is the Deputy High Commissioner of India to Pakistan. He is now acting as Chargé d'Affaires of the High Commission of India in Pakistan after Ajay Bisaria, New Delhi’s envoy to Islamabad, returned home earlier this month. Islamabad had asked for withdrawal India's High Commissioner to Pakistan, as it decided to downgrade its diplomatic ties with New Delhi in the wake of the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government to strip Jammu and Kashmir off its special status and reorganize the state into two Union Territories. Pakistan also decided not to send its newly-appointed High Commissioner to India, Moin ul Haque, to New Delhi.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to Jadhav's mother Avanti Jadhav and briefed her about the meeting between her son and India's Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan. 

The MEA spokesperson said that the government remained committed to continue to work to make it sure that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India. 

Ahluwalia had a meeting with Faisal, who is also the Director General (South Asia) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Pakistan Government, early on Monday. 

Faisal's colleague Fareha Bugti, Director (India) at the MoFA of Pakistan Government, accompanied Ahluwalia to the venue of the meeting with Jadhav. 

New Delhi will wait for a report from its High Commission in Islamabad to assess whether or not Pakistan Government had complied with the directive of the ICJ. 

New Delhi had on August 2 rejected the riders Islamabad attached it its offer of granting consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan had then insisted that its officials would be present when the incarcerated Indian Navy officer would interact with representatives of High Commission of India in Islamabad. Pakistan had also conveyed to India that the meeting would happen under CCTV surveillance and would be recorded. New Delhi had asked Islamabad to provide “unimpeded” and “unrestricted” access to Jadhav and to make it sure that he could interact with the consular officials of High Commission of India in Pakistan without any intimidation or fear of reprisal.

Notwithstanding the presence of Pakistan Government's officials and audio-visual recording of the meeting on Monday, Islamabad claimed that it had granted New Delhi “unimpeded, uninterrupted consular access” to Jadhav. Pakistan also stated that it had accepted India's request for not having any restriction on the language of communication between the former Indian Navy officer and Ahluwalia. Islamabad went on to claim that it had informed New Delhi that its officials would be recording the meeting. 

Though tension between New Delhi and Islamabad escalated in the wake of New Delhi’s moves on J&K, the diplomats of the two countries were in touch on arranging the meeting Jadhav and the representatives of the Government of India in Pakistan. 

Faisal, spokesperson of the MoFA of Pakistan, went on Twitter on Sunday to announce that Islamabad would provide New Delhi consular access to Jadhav on Monday “in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement and the laws of Pakistan”. “Commander Jadhav remains in Pakistan’s custody, for espionage, terrorism and sabotage,” he underlined in a post on Twitter.

The ICJ on July 17 had asked Pakistan to allow consular officials of High Commission of India in Islamabad to meet Jadhav. It had also asked Pakistan Government to inform the former Indian Navy officer about his rights under Vienna Convention.

India had moved the ICJ against Pakistan on May 10, 2017. The court had on May 18, 2017 stayed his execution pending its final judgement in the case.

The ICJ had on July 17 delivered its judgement, concluding that Pakistan had violated the Article 36 of the Vienna Convention by not informing India about his arrest immediately after taking him into custody. It had also held that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention by declining India's request for consular access to incarcerated Jadhav. It had asked Pakistan to review the conviction of Jadhav, but rejected India's plea for his acquittal, release and repatriation from the neighbouring country.

New Delhi has been asking Islamabad to grant consular access to Jadhav, “in full compliance with the judgement of the ICJ and in full conformity with Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963.”

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