India refuses to accept ‘impeded’ access to Jadhav

Wednesday 07th August 2019 07:29 EDT

India rejected Pakistan's offer for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying it wanted “unimpeded” access to the Indian national in Pakistan’s custody. Official sources said Pakistan was asked to provide consular access to Jadhav “in an environment free from the fear of intimidation and reprisal, in the light of the orders of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).” This means India doesn’t want the presence of Pakistani officials while Indian officials meet Jadhav. After its response in the form of a note verbale, India is now awaiting Islamabad’s reaction.

However, Islamabad is unlikely to allow Indian officials to speak to Jadhav in private. It has basically laid down three conditions. First, the presence of a Pakistani official in the room where Indian officials will speak to Jadhav. Second, the room will have CCTVs and, third, it will have sound recording facilities. This means Pakistani authorities will be able to listen to every word of the conversation. Pakistan apparently thinks this is in line with "universal" practices and also in keeping with India's own laws.

Addressing a weekly press briefing in Islamabad, foreign office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said work was being done on granting consular access to Jadhav and that measures were being taken in accordance with last month’s decision of the ICJ. He said India was informed that Jadhav could be granted consular access on August 2.

The 42-page ruling by International Court of Justice (ICJ) on July 17 had held Pakistan guilty of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and called for consular access to Jadhav. The international court asked for an effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and death sentence to Jadhav. Pakistan had responded by saying it was going to work out the modalities for consular access in line with Pakistani laws.

With Pakistan not showing any sign of diluting these conditions, the government may consider moving ICJ again for what it has described as full consular access. Before that though, the government is likely to continue pressing Pakistan for the same diplomatically. This could mean again issuing a series of note verbale to Pakistan for access to Jadhav in line with the ICJ judgment. “This is not an ordinary case and Pakistan’s offer was against the spirit of the ICJ judgment. The whole purpose of consular access will be defeated if it’s carried out in the way Pakistan is suggesting,’’ said a source.

Pakistan arrested a 24-year-old Indian from Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 for allegedly spying on a nuclear enhancement facility in eastern Punjab province, after he reportedly entered from Iran. Pakistani officials identified the ‘spy’ as Rajo alias Raju Laxman of ‘Nimarkhedi, Indore’. MP police could not find anyone by the name in Indore division. However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.

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