India said it is weighing Pakistan’s offer in light of ICJ’s July ruling before responding to the proposal
Indian officials will be accompanied by Pakistani officials for the meeting, as per the proposal
New Delhi: India on Thursday said it is weighing an offer from Pakistan providing conditional consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who Islamabad alleges to be an Indian spy and is in Pakistan’s custody.
Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan’s restive province of Balochistan in 2016 and accused of terrorism, spying, and fomenting trouble in the region. He was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017. However, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based in The Hague, Netherlands, directed Pakistan to stay his execution and allow him consular access, in a 15-1 decision on 17 July.
“We have received a proposal from Pakistan. We are at this point of time evaluating the proposal in the light of the judgement of the International Court of Justice. We will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi. He, however, did not say by when India would respond to the Pakistani offer, which said that Indian officials could meet Jadhav on Friday.
“We have offered the Indian High Commission to avail consular access on this Friday. The reply from the Indian side is awaited," Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Faisal said in Islamabad, according to a transcript posted on the Pakistan foreign ministry website.
The crux of India’s case at the ICJ was that Pakistan had denied Jadhav consular access despite repeated requests by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. India also pointed out that the high commission was also informed about Jadhav’s arrest three weeks after he was detained.
Indian consular officials will be accompanied by Pakistani officials for their meeting with Jadhav, according to the terms of the proposal made by Pakistan to India on Thursday, it is learnt. This, however, does not conform with the provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
India is learnt to have sought “unhindered" access without Pakistani agencies monitoring the meeting, so that Jadhav is able to express himself freely.
Kumar also said that India had taken up with Washington the US notification of a decision last week to approve military sales worth $125 million that would result in end-use monitoring of Pakistani F-16 fighter jets.
“We have taken up the matter with US ambassador (Ken Juster) here in New Delhi as well as the government of the US in Washington through our ambassador (Harsh Vardhan Shringla)," Kumar said. “We have expressed grave concern over the US military assistance to Pakistan. What we have been told by the US is that the proposed sale doesn’t indicate any change in the US policy of maintaining a freeze in military assistance to Pakistan," he said.
India has been opposed to US arms sales to Pakistan on the grounds that the hardware would be used against India. Pakistan had used F-16 fighter jets to launch an air raid against India in retaliation to New Delhi bombing a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area.
Asked if Vietnam had turned to India for support over a standoff with China in the contested South China Sea, Kumar said that New Delhi sought peace, stability, and predictability in the region, given that 55% of Indian trade passed through the waters of the South China Sea. “We expect normal international laws to be followed" in international waters, Kumar said.
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