SOURCE: Tribune News Service
Officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, who were offered consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav on Thursday, protested against Pakistan reneging on earlier assurances and left the venue after lodging a protest. During backchannel talks on access to Jadhav that began on Monday, Pakistani diplomats had assured their Indian interlocutors that no one would be posted in Jadhav’s vicinity during the meeting with consular officials. There would also be no recording of the meeting.
But Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present close to Jadhav. Indian consular officials detected a camera which meant the conversation was being recorded. Jadhav, too, was under visible stress and indicated that to the Consular officers.
“The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding that the Indian side could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and was prevented from getting his signature for arranging his legal representation.
“In the light of these circumstances, we came to the conclusion that this consular access was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, the officers left the venue,” he said.
Srivastava recalled that over the past year, India has requested Pakistan more than 12 times to provide unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been in Pakistani custody since 2016.
Consular access is of utmost importance, as it is the basis for an effective review and reconsideration ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In May, Pakistan had passed an Ordinance, ostensibly to comply with the ICJ order. It envisaged Indian High Commission officials filing a petition before a High Court for a relevant review and reconsideration.
“In that context, the contacts and conversations with Jadhav assume great importance. Any conversation with him must take place in privacy and without anyone’s presence or recording to enable Jadhav speak freely without any concerns of reprisal.
“It is already evident that Jadhav has been intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review,” said Srivastava.
“It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgment, but also failed to act in accordance with its own Ordinance,” he alleged.
The MEA has informed Jadhav’s family of the developments. The last consular access had taken place in September last year.