–FO spokesperson says decision in line with ICJ verdict
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has granted India with consular access to convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict, the Foreign Office said (FO) in a statement on Sunday.
Jadhav, a convicted Indian spy, is on a death row in Pakistan for his involvement in terrorist activities after he was arrested from Balochistan in 2016 over espionage charges and subsequently sentenced to death by a military court.
The FO said that the Indian officials will be allowed to meet the convicted spy on Monday in the light of the Vienna Convention.
The decision to allow consular access to Jadhav comes at a time when ties between India and Pakistan are at historic low over the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with India, suspended bilateral trade among other measures in response to a month-long curfew in Kashmir and human rights violations committed by Indian troops in the occupied region.
On August 3, India had turned down Pakistan’s offer for consular access to Jadhav in its current form, saying Islamabad must provide “unimpeded” contact with the Indian spy on death row.
A day earlier, FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal had announced that as a responsible state, “Pakistan will grant consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav according to Pakistani laws for which modalities are being worked out.”
In response, Raveesh Kumar, a spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had said, “We have received a proposal from Pakistan. We are evaluating the proposal in the light of the ICJ judgement. We will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels.”
However, later India rejected Pakistan’s offer saying that the access should also be “in light of the orders of ICJ”. India expressed concerns over the meeting conditions, especially the presence of Pakistani officials during a meeting between Jadhav and Indian officials, saying that unimpeded access would ensure that Jadhav can speak to the Indian officials freely without any fear of “possible reprisals”.
On July 17, the ICJ had rejected India’s plea for the acquittal of Jadhav, ruling that Jadhav be allowed consular access immediately and asking Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”.
Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf had announced the verdict in the presence of both Pakistani and Indian delegations.
The ICJ had rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistani from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav’s release and ordering his return to India.
The ICJ had said that even though it had found Pakistan in violation of Article 36 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), “it is not the conviction and sentence of Mr Jadhav which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”
The world court had said that the most it could do was to order Pakistan to cease violation of Article 36 and review the case in light of how that violation may have affected the case’s outcome.
To this end, Pakistan was directed to immediately inform Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, grant him consular access, and then review the case while considering, under the laws of Pakistan, how not doing so earlier may have impacted the case.
In a statement issued after the verdict, the FO had said that Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community, upheld its commitment from the very beginning of the case by appearing before the honourable court for provisional measures hearing despite a very short notice. Having heard the judgement, Pakistan will proceed as per law, FO had added.
Jadhav had been sentenced to death in April 2017 by a Pakistani military court over charges of espionage, following which India moved The Hague-based ICJ. A 10-member bench of the ICJ had in May 2017, restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
Pakistan had said that its security forces arrested Jadhav from Balochistan on March 3, 2016, after he allegedly “entered Pakistan from Iran”. India, however, maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
Pakistan and India both concluded their arguments in February. Pakistan had accused India of using ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save spy Jadhav from execution.