NEW DELHI: The family of Kulbhushan Jadhav—on death row in Pakistan for spying—has received an early Christmas gift from his captors. After weeks of dithering, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry announced Friday that both Jadhav’s wife and mother would be allowed to visit the jailed Indian on December 25.
“Pakistan has informed India that it is ready to allow the visit of the mother of Commander Jadhav, along with his wife. The visit should happen on 25th December, 2017. A diplomat from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad will be allowed to accompany the visitors. Requisite security would be provided to the visitors,” Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal announced during a regular press briefing. He was responding to a question on India’s demand for a sovereign guarantee of security for Jadhav’s family in Pakistan.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said while Pakistan had now allowed an Indian diplomat to accompany Jadhav’s mother and wife of during their meeting, it would be premature to describe it as consular access. “It is too early to predict the nature of this access, as facilitated by the Pakistani government. We will have to wait and see,” he said.
An Indian official who requested anonymity attributed Pakistan’s change of heart to several interlinked reasons. “There is increasing pressure from the US as well as from other nations on Pakistan to desist from its policy of using terror as an instrument of foreign policy. Now, we hear that even China, its ‘all weather friend’, is pressuring Islamabad to act on terror, particularly those active in Balochistan, because it adversely impacts the security of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said.
“Then, we must remember that the decision to cleanse Kashmir of Pakistani influence has been very successful so far, with several top terrorists gunned down over the past few months. The Pakistan Army’s attempts to raise the temperature along the Line of Control in Kashmir by repeatedly violating the ceasefire is being met with a steely resolve by the Indian Army, which has been authorised to respond with double the firepower, if needed. So, at a time like this, perhaps all that Pakistan is looking for is some breathing space while it sorts out its own domestic issues and decides whether it makes sense to pursue the same suicidal path,” the official added.
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy official, was arrested in March last year and charged with espionage and terrorism. While Pakistan claimed he was nabbed in Balochistan, New Delhi said Jadhav had no links with the Indian government post his premature retirement from the Navy, and that he had been kidnapped from Iran and taken to Pakistan to face trumped up charges. It also rejected a “confessional video” which had Jadhav admitting that he was a spy for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) as “fabricated and fictitious”.
Pakistan repeatedly rejected India’s appeals for consular access to Jadhav. In April 2017, a Pakistani military court sentenced him to death. Describing the sentence as ‘premeditated murder’, India approached the International Court of Justice.
Bitter battle over ‘spy’ arrest and conviction