Pakistan officials by his side, Kulbhushan Jadhav parrots Pakistan line
- India's deputy high commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia on Monday met Kulbhushan Jadhav after Pakistan granted consular access to him "in line with the ICJ judgement"
- The meeting, which was Jadhav's first after his arrest in 2016, happened at a sub jail on the outskirts of Islamabad and lasted for close to 2 hours in the presence of Pakistani officials
On the face of it though, the meeting proved to be of little use with a visibly harried Jadhav, as MEA said in a statement, parroting a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims.
This was Jadhav’s first meeting with any Indian government official after his arrest in March 2016.
Like in his meeting with his mother and wife in 2017, Jadhav’s remarks seemed tutored and meant to buttress Pakistan’s narrative that he was a serving Indian navy officer out to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan.
The meeting took place in the presence of Pakistani officials and was also recorded. Both sides though seemed restrained in their statements later, looking perhaps to avoid the ugly spat witnessed after Jadhav’s meeting with his family.
India had earlier told Pakistan in a note verbale, as reported by ToI on August 4, that it wanted Islamabad’s failure to provide Jadhav consular access before his trial "remedied" in the form of "private" access. India saw access only in private as fulfilling the mandate of ICJ judgment which held Pakistan guilty of violating Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying Jadhav consular access.
"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 Cd’A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives," said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar also spoke to Jadhav’s mother and briefed her about the developments on Monday.
The meeting happened at a sub jail on the outskirts of Islamabad, starting 1200 hours, and lasted for close to 2 hours.
Pakistan foreign office said there was, on Indian request, no restriction on the language used for communication. Pakistan had in 2017 prevented Jadhav’s wife from talking to him in Marathi. Pakistan also claimed it had provided India "unimpeded and uninterrupted" consular access to Jadhav.
The government said consular access was a part of the binding obligations of Pakistan, as ordered by the ICJ, to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a farcical process.
"The government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Shri Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India," said Kumar.
When asked why India had accepted Pakistan’s "offer" after having earlier rejected it because of conditions imposed by Islamabad, sources here said the meeting was important also to gauge the health and well-being of Jadhav. India clearly doesn’t see the meeting on Monday as a one-off thing with officials suggesting India could again ask for access.
Pakistan claimed the meeting was recorded to ensure ``transparency’’ and that it was ``in line with standard operating procedures’’. In its first consular access offer, which India had rejected, Pakistan had cited jail manuals to deny India permission to speak to Jadhav in private. India though had responded by saying that jail manuals only deal with regular consular access and not remedial access which the ICJ judgement had sought.
India had asked Pakistan to keep in mind the peculiar circumstances of Jadhav’s case. While acknowledging that in a regular or normal case, consular access is indeed provided in the presence of officials and the process recorded, India had appealed to Pakistan to keep in mind the peculiar circumstances of Jadhav’s case. Unlike in a regular consular access case, where the degree of involvement of the accused in a crime is still unknown, Jadhav had already been convicted on the basis of a confession extracted from him by Pakistan military authorities.