New Delhi: Gaurav Ahluwalia, India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, on Monday, met Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan, after Islamabad granted consular access to the former naval officer “in line with the ICJ judgment”.
Ahluwalia is likely to submit a report soon to the Government of India on his meeting with Jadhav.
The meeting took place a month after a similar interaction between Indian officials and Jadhav could not materialize amid differences between the two countries as Islamabad had placed conditions for consular access to the former Indian Navy officer, charged with terrorism and espionage.
“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,” Pakistan had said on Sunday.
India, which accepted the offer, said New Delhi was seeking consular access to Jadhav for the last three years. India had also taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the matter of denial of consular access. The ICJ had given a unanimous decision in favour of India.
Accordingly, India’s Charge d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav.
India had expressed the hope that Pakistan will ensure the right atmosphere for a free, fair, meaningful and effective meeting in keeping with the letter and spirit of the ICJ orders.
Pakistan’s offer came amidst its ongoing tension with India after revocation of the “special status” of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the border state into two Union Territories early in August.
Also, after successive failures at different global forums to internationalize the JK issue, Islamabad is going to face this month the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which, if it blacklists Pakistan on terror-funding charges, could further jeopardize the country’s already crippled economy. The ICJ, the UN, and FATF have all delivered adverse remarks against Pakistan in the recent past. Clearly, Pakistan is trying to portray a ‘positive’ image to ward off possible black-listing by the FATF.
In July, the Hague-based ICJ had directed Islamabad to grant India consular access to Jadhav without further delay.
Earlier, two weeks after the ICJ ruling, India had virtually turned down Islamabad’s conditional offer of providing consular access to Jadhav.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was allegedly abducted by the Pakistani Army from Iran, and later claimed he was arrested from Balochistan. In April 2017, He was later sentenced to death by a kangaroo court of Pakistani Army on charges of “espionage and terrorism”, following which India had moved the ICJ.
Eminent Indian lawyer Harish Salve represented Jadhav and India in the ICJ for a token fee of just one rupee, at the instance of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Curiously, a day before he was to collect the fee, the senior BJP leader breathed her last on August 6.