NEW DELHI — Kulbhushan Jadhav appeared to be under “extreme pressure” to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims in his case, the External Affairs Ministry said on Monday, hours after a top Indian diplomat met him at a sub-jail for an hour.
Charge d’ Affaires at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav after Pakistan granted consular access to the retired Indian Navy officer following a directive from the International Court of Justice.
“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,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
“We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Charge d’ Affaires and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives,” he added.
Kumar said Monday’s consular access is a part of the “binding obligations” of Pakistan as ordered by the ICJ to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a “farcical process”.
He said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has spoken to Jadhav’s mother and briefed her about the latest developments.
“The government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India,” Kumar said.
Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. Weeks later, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and to challenge the death sentence.
In its verdict in the case on July 17, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective” review of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and asked it to grant consular access to him without further delay.
On August 1, Pakistan Foreign Office said Jadhav will be granted consular access the next day. However, India did not accept the offer due to certain conditions put by Islamabad for the meeting.
One of the conditions was the presence of a Pakistani official when Jadhav is allowed to meet Indian officials as part of the consular access. India did not agree to the condition, saying the access must be “unimpeded” and in the spirit of the ICJ judgement.
The fresh offer for consular access to Jadhav came in the midst of spiralling tensions between the two countries after India withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.
Pakistan has been trying to raise the issue at various international fora, but India has maintained that it is an internal matter.
Pakistan claims its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.
However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.