New Delhi: Nearly a month and a half has passed since the International Court of Justice found Pakistan in violation of the Vienna Convention and ordered it to grant consular access to alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. But amid mounting tensions over Jammu and Kashmir, consular access is nowhere in sight, as both countries continue to haggle over modalities.
Both India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry stated Thursday they were awaiting a response from the other side.
Sources told ThePrint that Pakistan insists that consular access to Jadhav, an Indian national and former Navy officer, will be given based on the provisions laid down in India’s Model Prison Manual, 2016.
Jadhav, now 49, was arrested in March 2016 by Pakistani authorities and sentenced to death in April 2017 on charges of spying and terrorism.
After the ICJ’s 17 July verdict, the Imran Khan government allowed Indian consular officials to meet Jadhav on 2 August. However, the meeting could never take place as India refused to accept Pakistan’s conditions.
On 7 August, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India, as a result of which India’s High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria had to return. This also added to the delay in ironing out modalities, the sources said.
Worse than Sarabjit case
An official involved in the talks said Pakistan had refused to budge from its demand that consular access would only be granted if its officials were allowed to sit with Indian officials when they recorded Jadhav’s statements.
“This was not done even during the time of Sarabjit Singh. Even at that time, Pakistani officials would be present in the room but not within hearing distance. They would just walk around and keep a check. But this time, they have gone much further in their demands,” the official said.
Singh, like Jadhav, was also convicted for terrorism and espionage, and died in May 2013 after being attacked by fellow inmates in a Lahore jail.
Wait for normalcy or go back to ICJ
Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal said the Jadhav case had indeed become more difficult now.
“This was bound to happen considering the tensions in the relationship surrounding Kashmir. This case was, anyway, complicated from the beginning. Now, either we will have to wait till ties become normal, or we can go back to the ICJ again,” he said.
Sabharwal said with the conditions that have been laid out by Pakistan, it is not possible for Jadhav to speak freely and without fear.