New Delhi: India's Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia on Monday met Indian death-row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav after Pakistan granted consular access to him "in line with the International Court of Justice judgement" delivered in July.
This is the first time India got access to Jadhav since his arrest by Pakistani security forces in March 2016. Pakistan claimed Jadhav was arrested from the restive Balochistan province after he reportedly entered the region from Iran to foment unrest there. India has acknowledged that he is a former Indian naval officer but denies that he is a spy for the Indian government. India says Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
Ahluwalia met the retired Indian Navy officer at a sub-jail after Pakistan formally granted consular access to him, the Dawn News paper said in a report on its website. Before that, Ahluwalia met Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal at the foreign ministry
India had demanded "immediate, effective and unhindered" consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with Islamabad through diplomatic channels. On Sunday, Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal in a Twitter post said consular access for Jadhav would be provided on 2 September "in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement & the laws of Pakistan." However, it is not yet clear if the consular access provided on Monday was “unhindered" ie without the presence of Pakistani officials at the meeting as demanded by India.
The consular access to Jadhav comes amid tension between India and Pakistan which spiked after India revoked the special status granted to Kashmir under its Constitution.
Monday’s meeting between Ahluwalia and Jadhav came a month after a similar interaction between Indian officials and the former Navy officer failed to materialise amid differences between New Delhi and Islamabad on terms of consular access. Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" in April 2017. India then moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.
On 17 July, the Hague-based International Court of Justice directed Pakistan to stay Jadhav’s execution and allow him consular access. ICJ president judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf also directed Pakistan to review and reconsider the death sentence awarded to Jadhav under the provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention that defines a framework for consular relations between countries. This was seen as a victory for India as these were the main arguments on which New Delhi had based its case.