Pakistan offers consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, India wants no surveillance or interference like last time

Pakistan has offered a fresh consular access to former Indian Naval officer who is being forcefully kept in the country’s prison on false and unfounded allegations of espionage.

Announcing the decision, Pakistani foreign office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal tweeted, “Consular access for Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer and RAW operative, is being provided on Monday, September 2, in line with Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, ICJ judgment and the laws of Pakistan. Commander Jadhav remains in Pakistan’s custody, for espionage, terrorism and sabotage.”

There was no immediate response from MEA, but sources said India would only accept private access – that is, unrestricted and unimpeded access to Jadhav. This will have to be without Pakistani officials or video-audio surveillance. India, sources said, would assess the nature of the Pakistani offer before taking a decision.

The last time Islamabad offered access in early August, it came with riders like presence of Pakistani officials, as well as video and audio recording. It was rejected by India for being contrary to the terms of the International Court of Justice judgment, and coming with too many conditions.

Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.

Earlier, Pakistan had offered consular access on August 1, but with conditions – that one Pakistani official would be present alongside.

On August 2, India had asked Pakistan to provide “unimpeded consular access” to Jadhav, in an environment “free from the fear of intimidation and reprisal”, after Islamabad said it has sent a proposal to New Delhi allowing consular access to the Indian national.

Pakistan’s offer has come amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions which spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

Pakistan has been trying to raise the issue at various international fora, but India has maintained that it is an internal matter.

Earlier, addressing a weekly media briefing on Thursday, Faisal said that Pakistan and India were in contact on the “issue of granting consular access” to Jadhav.

On the same day, India said it had asked for “immediate, effective and unhindered” consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with the neighbouring country through diplomatic channels.

However, Faisal’s tweets on Sunday doesn’t say if the consular access is unhindered as demanded by India.