ISLAMABAD: New Delhi has once again asked Islamabad for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav – the self-confessed Indian spy sentenced to death for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan – as both sides exchanged lists of prisoners in each other’s custody on Saturday.
The lists were exchanged through diplomatic channels in line with the Consular Access Agreement between the two countries.
“India has again requested Pakistan to grant full and early consular access to Indian nationals in its custody, including Hamid Nehal Ansari and Jadhav,” reads a statement issued by India’s external affairs ministry.
“India once again requests Pakistan for the early release and repatriation of Indian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats whose nationalities have been confirmed by India,” the statement adds.
India, in May, moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Jadhav’s execution after the spy was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court the month before. The ICJ, subsequently, ordered Pakistan to stay the execution till a final ruling in the case.
In its petition, the Indian government claimed that it was not informed of Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the spy of his rights. It also accused Pakistani authorities of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying India consular access to Jadhav and urged the ICJ to direct Pakistan to annul Jadhav’s sentence.
Pakistan, while presenting its arguments before the ICJ, said there was no need for the UN court to intervene in the matter as it had adhered to a 2008 bilateral treaty with India that supersedes the Vienna pact by stating that the right to consular access can be waived where ‘national security’ is at risk. It described India’s decision to take its case to the UN court as ‘political theatre’.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3 last year during a counter-intelligence operation from the Mashkel area of Balochistan. A few weeks later, the army had released his recorded confessional statement in which he had admitted to have been working for India’s premier intelligence agency – the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – to stoke unrest and instability in Pakistan.
In a six-minute video shown on the national media, Jadhav confessed that he had been tasked with creating unrest in Balochistan and Karachi, to which he had apparently made several visits under a fake identity since 2003. India denies Jadhav was a RAW agent but admits that he was a retired naval officer.
In a second confessional video released last month, Jadhav expressed remorse at the loss of many precious innocent lives due to the terrorist and subversive activities he had a hand in. He also filed a mercy petition to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, urging him to spare his life on ‘compassionate grounds’.
If the army chief rejects his appeal, Jadhav will still be able to file a mercy plea with the president of Pakistan.
325 Indians in Pakistani jails: FO
The Foreign Office on Saturday said there are now 325 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails after 219 fishermen and two civilians were returned to the neighbouring country over the last six months.
Another 77 fishermen and a civilian will be released on July 10 as a goodwill gesture, the FO added in a statement.