Comprehensive security check was necessary
Rejecting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s meeting with his family in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said that the visitors were treated with dignity and respect, in line with Islamic teachings.
Jadhav met his mother and wife in Islamabad on Monday, their first meeting since his arrest from Balochistan last year on charges of espionage and terrorism.
Speaking in Indian parliament on Thursday, Swaraj accused Pakistan of disrespecting cultural sensitivities, saying Jadhav’s mother was forced to change her dress — from the sari to shalwar kameez.
Pakistani officials, she added, did not let the mother and son talk in their mother tongue Marathi, even though it was ‘their first meeting in 22 months’. She alleged that confessions made by the convict were made under duress.
In response, Asif, in a statement said Pakistan’s humanitarian gesture does not do away with the fact that this was not an ordinary meeting.
“The reality remains that Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav is a serving Indian Naval Officer and a convicted Indian terrorist and spy responsible for multiple deaths and destruction in Pakistan,” the communiqué read. “A comprehensive security check was therefore essential.”
He said the change of clothes and removal of jewellery was purely for security reasons and terming it a deliberate act to disrespect religious and cultural sensitivities was “regrettable”.
“The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The wife’s shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed,” the statement said.
The foreign minister elaborated that many routine airport security checks for ordinary people entail removal of crosses and veils. “It is unfortunate that the frenzied Indian media is driving Indian politics.”
Reiterating that Pakistan had been open and transparent throughout the meeting, Asif advised India to focus on the fact that the meeting happened despite “immense challenges and impediments, instead of distortion of facts and baseless propaganda”… “this needs to be acknowledged”.
Asif, in his statement, said the meeting had been held successfully despite all impediments and this needs to be acknowledged. “The success of the meeting was evident by the fact that the mother thanked Pakistan after the visit,” he added.
Also on Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal reiterated that the family of convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav had been allowed to meet him purely on humanitarian grounds.
“The footwear of Kulbhushan’s wife was taken only because of security concerns,” he said, adding that the shoes will be handed over to Indian authorities after complete screening. “The details of the screening will also be shared with media in the next two days,” he said.