Pakistan’s high commissioner in New Delhi has effectively ruled out providing India consular access to self-confessed spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
In an interview with Times of India, Abdul Basit said Islamabad will follow domestic laws, not the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 (VCCR), in deciding whether to entertain India's plea or not.
The envoy also made a strong pitch for starting the December 2015 Composite Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) which, he insisted, was the right way of addressing even India's concerns on cross-border terrorism, including the delay in Mumbai trial and lack of progress in Pathankot airbase attack case. Basit blamed India for the delay in Mumbai trial saying that progress was linked to the need for Pakistan authorities to examine 24 Indian witnesses.
India has requested for consular access to Jadhav on 16 occasions. Basit, however, said the Vienna Convention, to which Pakistan is party, cannot get precedence over domestic laws.
Pakistan has sufficient evidence against Jadhav: Abdul Basit
“He was arrested on March 3 last year. He faced trial for both espionage and sabotage. And conviction was announced. There was nothing arbitrary or whimsical about it. Even Pakistanis guilty of such offences are sentenced to death,” he pointed out.
“The Vienna Convention doesn't take precedence over our domestic laws. We do have a bi-lateral agreement on consular access which clearly stipulates that in such security-related cases, access would be decided on merit. Frankly speaking, India knows what we're talking about. This is not at ordinary case,” he said.
The envoy added that the legal course is available to Jadhav. “He can approach an appellate court and if his sentence is upheld, he can file a mercy petition with the Pakistan army chief in 60 days. And if that is rejected, he can appeal to the president of Pakistan for mercy.”
Regarding dialogue between Pakistan and India, Basit said it's in our mutual interest to have peace. “That is possible only through dialogue. To address our problems, especially Jammu and Kashmir, which we believe is the root cause of all distrust, engagement is inevitable.”
Pakistan not violating any pact by not giving consular access to Jadhav, says Basit
Responding to the impression in India that Pakistan has not done enough to address concerns on the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks, Basit said: “India never shared anything on Samjhauta Express attack despite several requests from Pakistan. And Samjhauta happened in 2007, before Mumbai. The trial still continues.”
“Mumbai is far more complex than Samjhauta. It is necessary that there is full cooperation between the two countries. We are now waiting for the 24 Indian witnesses to go to Pakistan and be examined. We are in touch with India but we need Indian authorities to cooperate fully. We can't do it unilaterally,” he added.
“We strongly believe there should be no pre-conditions for talks. We can always come up with our own conditions but we can't live in hostility forever,” the envoy said.
Asked about whether a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi could take place on the sidelines of the SCO summit, Basit said: “There's no such proposal now. It's up to the two PMs to decide if they want to meet or not.”