Pakistan has allowed Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, currently on death row, a meeting with his wife. The gesture has been made ‘purely on humanitarian grounds,’ a press release issued by Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry declared on Friday.
It said that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad has been informed of the decision. Pakistani foreign affairs ministry mentioned that this request has been granted months after India’s foreign affairs ministry had first raised it with Pakistan.
The Indian government has been trying to arrange a meeting of Jadhav with his family since July and had moved a visa application for his mother, but Pakistan had not reciprocated at the time. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had even written a “personal letter” to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz asking for approval of visa application of Jadhav’s mother so that she may travel to Pakistan.
Pakistan has also turned down at least 15 Indian requests for consular access to Jadhav since his arrest last year and India says that this was in violation of the Vienna Convention.
It is not yet clear what prompted Pakistan to relent but top government sources told News18 that the change in stance is an indication that Pakistan is under pressure from the international community and the case in International Court of Justice is not going in their direction.
Coming after some backchannel dialogue and meetings, it is likely to be seen as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two nations, who have been battling it out in the ICJ. The move comes after Pakistan defence spokesperson gave hints of hanging Jadhav, who is on death row on the allegations of spying as an agent of R&AW.
It was only last month, on October 5, when the Director General of Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor had said that the mercy petition of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav is in its “final stages” and a “good news” was likely to come “very soon.”
Though he didn’t spell it out, the “good news” for Pakistan was understood to be a hint at the army chief turning down Jadhav’s mercy petition, clearing way for his execution.
How will, if at all, the Chief of Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa turn down the mercy appeal of the Indian national, remains to be seen as any such order would be not stand in view of the ongoing arguments at International Court of Justice.
The ICJ had at India’s request asked Pakistan to restrain from hanging the former Indian naval officer. On May 18, the top UN court had ruled that Pakistan “shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure Jadhav is not executed pending final decision.”
Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan officially on March 3, 2016. Pakistani army claimed that he had ‘illegally crossed over to Pakistan and had confessed before a Magistrate of, on behalf of R&AW, planning, coordinating, and organising espionage’. However, India maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.
Here is a copy of the Pakistan foreign office’s release: