Two Indian officials visited Kulbhushan Jadhav on Thursday on Pakistan’s assurance of “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access’’.
“We will assess the situation after our officials return and provide a report,’’ said Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs, at the weekly virtual briefing. India has been requesting for unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Jadhav, he added.
On May 2020, Pakistan issued an ordinance to review the sentence awarded by the military court, as directed by the International Court of Justice. Jadhav has 60 days to file the review petition in Islamabad High Court. His refusal to file the petition does not prevent India filing a petition. The deadline to file looms large and will end on July 20.
The meeting will give India a chance to assess the way forward. Jadhav’s refusal to file the case puts India in a spot as the petition at the International Court of Justice argued that his military trial was unfair.
This is the first time that Jadhav, currently in a high security prison on death row for spying, will meet Indian officials after he refused to file a petition for review of his sentence in Islamabad High Court. India has asserted that Jadhav was coerced into doing so.
Indian officials were last given access to Jadhav in September 2019. According to a press release issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry, two consular officers of the Indian High Commission were provided “unimpeded and uninterrupted’’ consular access at 3 pm Pakistan time. The question remains whether the access provided by Pakistan was “unhindered”, as India has requested.
The meeting in September had been recorded as part of “standard operating procedure’’, Pakistan had claimed. It had also been in the presence of a Pakistani official.
Will it be different this time around? The Pakistan foreign ministry press release uses the word “uninterrupted”—which does not suggest that the meeting will be recorded.