New Delhi: Amid reports that Pakistan has placed conditions before India on consular access to imprisoned former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, including the presence of a Pakistani official at the meeting, New Delhi is evaluating its options which may include rejecting the proposal if it is not in line with the recent verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
There were reports that Islamabad had offered to grant the consular access at 3.30 pm on Friday, but these were not confirmed by New Delhi, which merely confirmed that a proposal for consular access had been received from the Pakistani authorities. However, New Delhi is expected to take a final decision very soon on whether to accept the Pakistani proposal or not. Mr Jadhav had been handed a death penalty in Pakistan in April 2017 by a military court on charges of espionage and sabotage. New Delhi had dismissed the Pakistani charges. The ICJ, in its verdict on July 17, had criticised Pakistan for not granting India consular access to Mr Jadhav in violation of the Vienna Convention.
“We have received a proposal from Pakistan. We are at this point of time evaluating the proposal in the light of the judgment of the ICJ. We will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels,” MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said at his weekly media briefing on Thursday. Asked if Pakistan had put some conditions for granting consular access to Mr Jadhav, Mr Kumar declined to give a specific answer. “I do not think this is the appropriate forum for me to get into the kind of modalities which are being discussed between India and Pakistan,” he said.
There were reports that Pakistan had imposed a condition that a Pakistani official will have to be present when Mr Jadhav is given consular access. It also remains to be seen whether any such meeting will take place with a glass partition separating Mr Jadhav from the Indian officials. Speculation is rife that there may be more than one condition that the Pakistanis are insisting on.
Sources said Pakistan sent the proposal to New Delhi through the Indian high commission in Islamabad about two to three days ago. In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal reportedly said his government was awaiting India’s response to the proposal to grant consular access to Mr Jadhav Friday.
India had last week said it expected that “full consular access” to Mr Jadhav in line with the recent ICJ verdict on July 17 at The Hague. This indicates that New Delhi wants to play strictly by the book and does not want any deviation by Pakistan from the consular access norms as laid down in the Vienna Convention.
It may be recalled that Mr Jadhav had met his wife and mother in Islamabad with a glass partition separating them on December 25, 2017, following which India had lambasted Pakistan for “conducting the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings”.