ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Sunday said it will grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in the country, on Monday “in line with the ICJ judgement”.
The announcement came nearly six weeks after a meeting between Indian officials and Jadhav did not materialise amid differences between New Delhi and Islamabad on the terms of the consular access to the retired Indian navy officer.
Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.
“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,” Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted.
“Commander Jadhav remains in Pakistan’s custody, for espionage, terrorism and sabotage,” he added.
Pakistan’s offer has come amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions which spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke 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.
Earlier, addressing a weekly media briefing on Thursday, Faisal said that Pakistan and India were in contact on the “issue of granting consular access” to Jadhav.
On the same day, India said it had asked for “immediate, effective and unhindered” consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with the neighbouring country through diplomatic channels.
However, Faisal’s tweets on Sunday doesn’t say if the consular access is unhindered as demanded by India.
On August 1, Pakistan Foreign Office said the retired Indian Navy officer on death row will be granted consular access the next day. However, the meeting, which was scheduled for 3 pm on August 2, did not materialise amid differences between India and Pakistan on the terms of the consular access to Jadhav.
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.
One of the conditions put by Pakistan reportedly 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, making clear its position that the consular access must be “unimpeded” and should be in the light of the judgement by the ICJ.
Pakistan claims that 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.