A senior Indian diplomat met Kulbhushan Jadhav, held in Pakistan since 2016 on the charges of "espionage and terrorism", appeared to be under "extreme pressure" as he repeated a tutored narrative intended to support Pakistan’s claim that he was allegedly plotting terror attacks. Islamabad granted consular access to Jadhav, who is on death row, after in line with the decision of International Court of Justice. India had demanded “immediate, effective and unhindered” consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with Islamabad through diplomatic channels. However, it is not yet clear if the consular access provided was unhindered as demanded by India.
“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 our further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our charge d’affaires and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives,’’ MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
India’s charge d’affaires in Pakistan Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav after the government surprisingly accepted Islamabad’s consular access offer. On the face of it, though, the meeting proved to be disconcerting as a harried Jadhav repeated the “confession” that he had made after being held. This was Jadhav’s first meeting with any Indian government official after his arrest in March 2016.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar also spoke to Jadhav’s mother and informed her about the developments. The meeting which took place at a sub-jail on the outskirts of Islamabad, started at 12 noon, and lasted for close to two hours. Pakistan’s foreign office said there was, on Indian request, no restriction on the language used for communication. Pakistan had in 2017 prevented Jadhav’s wife from talking to him in Marathi. Pakistan also claimed it provided India “unimpeded and uninterrupted’’ consular access.
Like in his meeting with his mother and wife in 2017, Jadhav’s remarks seemed tutored and meant to buttress Pakistan’s claims that he was a serving Indian Navy officer out to carry out terrorist activities in Balochistan. The meeting took place in the presence of Pakistani officials and was also recorded. Both sides seemed restrained in their statements unlike when Jadhav’s wife and mother were heckled and humiliated.
Meeting important to gauge Jadhav’s health, well-being
When asked why India had accepted Pakistan’s ‘offer’ after having earlier rejected it because of conditions, sources said the meeting was important to gauge the health and well-being of Jadhav. India had earlier told Pakistan in a note verbale that it wanted Islamabad’s failure to provide Jadhav consular access before his trial “remedied’’ in the form of “private’’ access. India saw access only in private as fulfilling the mandate of the ICJ judgment which held Pakistan guilty of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying Jadhav consular access. The ICJ had questioned the validity of Jadhav’s trial and death sentence before a secret military ‘black’ court.
On July 17, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay. Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. While India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.