Jadhav meets family, ‘not for the last time’

Convicted Indian spy meets wife, mother for 40 minutes at FO


Kamran Yousaf December 26, 2017
The mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jadhav meet the Indian spy in Islamabad. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Amid unprecedented security cover, Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav — who was awarded death sentence for his involvement in espionage, terrorism and subversive activities against Pakistan —met his wife and mother at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

This was the first time Jadhav saw his family since March 2016 when he was arrested from Balochistan and subsequently handed down a death sentence by a military tribunal. Pakistan indicated that more such meetings could be arranged in the future.

Jadhav’s wife, Chetankul, and mother, Avanti, arrived in Islamabad on a commercial flight in the afternoon and returned home in the evening after a 40-minute meeting at the Foreign Office.

Soon after their arrival, the two ladies first drove to the Indian High Commission before being taken to the Foreign Office. On their arrival, both the mother and the wife greeted the local and international media but did not answer their questions.

Jadhav ‘not to be hanged immediately’

They were accompanied by Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, who was present at the meeting held at a custom-built, bomb-proof container parked at the backside of the Foreign Office. Jadhav spoke to his wife and mother through intercom as the glass partition was installed due to security reasons.

The Indian diplomat was present to witness the meeting but was not allowed to talk or listen to the conversation. A Pakistan Foreign Office official was also present. The meeting was supposed to last 30 minutes but was extended for another 10 minutes at Jadhav’s request.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said Jadhav’s wife and mother thanked Pakistan for the gesture while a recorded message of the Indian spy was also released in this regard. In the recorded statement, Jadhav once again said he was working for India as a Research and Wing Analysis (RAW) agent.

“I entered Pakistan two years ago from Iran and was apprehended by Pakistani security officials in Balochistan. The attitude of Pakistanis has always been respectful and dignified.

At ICJ, Pakistan dismisses India’s plea for consular access to Jhadav

“I am utterly thankful to Pakistan for granting my family the permission to meet me,” Jadhav said, adding that he had requested the Pakistani authorities for the meeting.

The Foreign Office also released his medical certificate issued by Dubai-based Saudi German Hospital, showing that Jadhav was in excellent health conditions and not facing any medical problem.

Even during the meeting, Jadhav, wearing a navy blue blazer, looked healthy. He seemed to have gained weight since he was last seen while recording a confessional statement just days after his arrest in March 2016.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan allowed the meeting between Jadhav and his family purely as a humanitarian gesture.

“This is a very important day for Pakistan, being the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Quaid- i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was in this light that this day was chosen for the humanitarian meeting of Commander Jadhav with his wife and mother,” he said.

Pakistan allowing wife, mother to meet Jadhav is “positive development”: India External Affairs Ministry

He made it clear that the meeting of Jadhav with his family was not the last and he was under no immediate threat of execution. He said Pakistan wanted the wife and mother of Jadhav to speak to the media, at the Foreign Office after the meeting.

“This would have included the Indian media as well. We had formally proposed this to India. This was done in the spirit that Pakistan has nothing to hide and like all of you seeks answers to many questions that remain unanswered. However, the Indian side requested that they wanted to avoid media interaction,” said the FO spokesperson.

He clarified that the presence of Indian diplomat should not be considered as consular access. The diplomat was present during the meeting and could see Commander Jadhav, but he was not allowed to speak or listen to the conversation of Commander Jadhav with his wife and mother.

Answering a question, the spokesperson said the decision on consular access would be taken at an appropriate time.

Islamabad has repeatedly refused New Delhi consular access to Jadhav on the grounds that the bilateral agreement does not apply to spies. India disputes the Pakistani claim and has gone to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague.

The Indian media, which was in a frenzy, called the Pakistan move as a ‘PR stunt’. Media outlets across the border also linked the Pakistan decision to international pressure.

PM to get briefing on Jhadav case

However, the FO spokesperson emphatically said the decision to allow Jadhav to meet his wife and mother had nothing to do with any pressure or proceedings at the ICJ.

Some of the Indian networks questioned the Pakistani decision to record the meeting between the Indian spy and his family. Foreign Office officials, however, made it clear that Indian government was informed well in advance about the protocol.

The spokesperson said the family was not allowed to meet Jadhav physically as security was paramount. “There was a partition between the two parties in the meeting due to security reasons,” Dr Faisal said.

Even as Pakistan granted permission for the meeting, the spokesperson pointed out India’s reluctance to explain how and why an authentic Indian passport was used on a false ID at least 17 times when Jadhav travelled in and out of India.

“India was provided with a copy of the passport that was in the possession of Commander Jadhav when he was apprehended. The passport bears a Muslim name, Hussein Mubarak Patel, which clearly is not Commander Jadhav. Indian silence is telling,” he added.

The spokesperson, however, hoped that India would follow the template of Pakistan and said: “One good deed should beget another.”

Pakistan’s commitment

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali described the Indian spy’s meeting with his family as yet another manifestation of Pakistan’s commitment to enforcement of fundamental rights.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Ali said Pakistan has always honoured its international commitments and obligations. Its record of respecting human and fundamental rights has improved over the years.

“There are no political prisoners but the Indians have shown scant regard to their obligations under the United Nations resolutions. It is training terrorists. It is aiding and abetting acts of violence by finding and funding such activities. The world ought to take notice of the atrocities unleashed on Kashmiris.  Why are they being held incommunicado?” he said.

The legal experts are appreciating Pakistan’s move to arrange the meeting at this time. They believe that the move will not improve Pakistan’s legal defence at the ICJ but it is good for the country’s image.

[WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM HASNAAT MALIK IN ISLAMABAD]

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