After a long-drawn battle at the International Court of Justice and having faced the flak of the International community, Pakistan on Monday finally offered consular access under compulsion to the wrongly accused Indian Navy-Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who is on death row in Pakistani Jail since 2016, which the Indian Government duly accepted. India’s Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad, Gaurav Ahluwalia met Kulbhushan Jadhav in a sub jail in the outskirts of Islamabad for two hours where the Pakistani officials were yet again seen to be flouting the rules of consular access by admitting their presence in the closed meeting.
“While we await a comprehensive report it was clear that Shri Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims. We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Charge d’Affaires (Gaurav Ahluwalia) and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives,” said official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar. External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar briefed Mr Jadhav’s mother after the consular official concluded his meeting.
Interestingly, this was Kulbhushan Jadhav’s first meeting with any Indian Official after his arrest in March 2016 and also after the highly sabotaged meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife which took a sour turn instantaneously after Pakistan corrupted that meeting in every sense whatsoever. Pakistan went as far as to have the mangal sutra, footwear, bangles and bindi of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife removed on the grounds that they were carrying concealed devices. The mother and wife were not allowed to speak in Marathi either.
The ministry had requested for “private” and “free from any restrictions” access to Kulbhushan Jadhav along the lines of the ICJ judgment, but the presence of Pakistani officials seemed to show the intent of the government across the border that they were not dealing in good faith. Pakistani officials refuted the claims of meeting not being a “transparent” one by saying that the jail manuals were followed and therefore the meeting was recorded, whereas the Indian officials argued that it was not a regular consular access meeting albeit it was a remedial access which the ICJ verdict had sought on July 15.
Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court, accused of espionage and terrorism. He was arrested from the Balochistan province and subjugated to extreme mental and physical torture. Pakistan has been incredible notorious in twisting the facts and to aide their view of Mr. Jadhav being a spy, it had released four heavily doctored videos where Jadhav could be seen paraphrasing the ISI’s tutored lines, clearly under tremendous duress. It appears that Pakistan shall continue to interfere in the judicial process to sabotage Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case even after having given him consular access, reducing it to a mere optical tactic to comply by the ICJ order and opening up serious challenges for India to seek justice for Jadhav.
It remains to be seen what suitable course of action MEA takes after the report of the meeting, but till then one thing is crystal clear and that is that Pakistan is going not to hesitate to impede the whole diplomatic and judicial process and would go to any lengths to sabotage Kulbhushan Jadhav’s legal struggle against wrongful arrest, charges of espionage and terrorism, and death row. Having already committed “egregious violation” of the Vienna Convention, 1963, Pakistan is looking to even further degrade its tag of being a country that “violates basic human rights’. Pakistan being Pakistan, shall not go down that easy and will continue to interfere in the process. Kulbhushan Jadhav remains under the control of Pakistan through torture and threats which may make it difficult for him and his legal counsel to communicate and fight the legal battle fiercely. India needs to tread cautiously and maintain the diplomatic stronghold on Pakistan so as to bring Jadhav back home at the earliest.