NEWS & VIEWS
ON Friday, Pakistan offered to arrange a meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Islamic principles. Reacting to Pakistan’s decision to allow Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife to meet him, his father Sudhir Jadhav told Times of India on Saturday: “We can’t express our feelings in words. It’s a positive thing for us that the Pakistan government has decided to allow my daughter-in-law to meet her husband.” Meanwhile, India’s Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre claimed that pressure from both India and the international community had forced Islamabad to allow Kulbhushan’s wife to meet him. Following Minister’s statement, Indian media also misinterpreted Pakistan’s gesture and claimed that Pakistan took the decision because of pressure from international community. In fact, no country suggested or pressurised Pakistan to allow Jadhav’s wife to meet him; and during proceedings in the ICJ, this matter never came up.
It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s decision on humanitarian grounds is being misinterpreted as being done under pressure. In fact, Indian leadership does not feel any qualms for speaking blatant lies, ruses and subterfuges. Anyhow, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a brief statement that a note verbale with the formal offer of a meeting had been sent to the Indian high commission in Islamabad. The meeting would be arranged in Pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds. It has to be mentioned that in April 2017, Pakistan had received Jadhav’s mother Avantika Jadhav’s request to meet him, to which Pakistan had not responded. Perhaps Pakistan government deemed it appropriate to allow Jadhav’s wife instead of his old and ailing mother who may not be able to travel. According to Indian media, there is no response to her petition to the Pakistan government to grant clemency to her son. The matter is being discussed in higher echelons of foreign office and military.
According to a report, Pakistan Army said last month it is close to a decision on the mercy petition submitted by Jadhav. The army chief had earlier confirmed Jadhav’s death sentence after a court martial found him “guilty of all charges”. A high-level meeting of the government officials was reportedly held in the federal capital ahead of Pakistan Army Chief’s final decision on the mercy petition of Kulbhushan Jadhav to decide a future course of action. In July 2017, Pakistan had rejected India’s assertion that it was violating a bilateral pact by not giving access to, what India said, retired Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court. Dismissing the charge that Jadhav was a spy, India maintained that he was kidnapped by Pakistani authorities from Iran near Chahbahar port where he had legitimate business interest.
It is a matter of common sense that had he been arrested from Iran, the latter would have protested to Pakistan. Anyhow, India has made 15 requests for consular access to 46-year-old Jadhav, who had been convicted of espionage and sabotage by a Pakistan’s militarty court. He was awarded death sentence for spying and being involved in terror acts in Balochistan and elsewhere. Indian leadership’s craftiness, demonstrated by being skilled in deception, is hallmark of Indian diplomacy. And they give spin to Pakistan’s statements and even good gestures. India is raising questions about Pakistan violating the bilateral pact. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said in an interview that as per the bilateral pact on consular access, cases pertaining to political and security issues will be decided on merit, indicating that consular access cannot be taken for granted.
He also stated the fact that the Indian national had been travelling to Pakistan for several years and was carrying two Indian passports, including one with a fake name. The statement further claimed Jadhav had confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities. Jadhav in June had sought clemency over his death sentence after his plea to an appellate court was rejected. Jadhav had appealed to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). If COAS rejects Jadhav’s mercy petition, he is eligible to go to the Pakistan President.Jadhav’s execution was stayed by the ICJ after India took the matter to the International Court of Justice, which said he should not be executed till it gives a final ruling in the case. However, Pakistan is not obliged to implement ICJ’s verdict if it clears Jadhev of all the charges, which perhaps it would not do.
India has already submitted its written pleadings to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is hearing the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav – an Indian navy officer sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court for espionage and subversive activities. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement: “The written pleadings to ICJ in Jadhav case involving egregious violation of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by Pakistan is in furtherance of our Application filed before Court on May 8,”. The ICJ had suspended the death sentence of Jadhav pending final judgment by it. After discussing with both India and Pakistan, President of the ICJ Ronny Abraham, had asked India to make its submission by Sep 13, and also asked Islamabad to make its counter-submission by Dec 13 before the court starts hearing matter. Reportedly, Pakistan has also submitted its written pleadings to ICJ.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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