Rajat Sharma

Consular access to Jadhav was nothing less than a sham

akbAfter lots of dilly-dallying and a protracted legal battle before the International Court of Justice, Pakistan was directed by the ICJ to provide consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national who has been given death sentence by a Pakistani military court.

On Monday, the Indian Charge d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia was allowed to meet Jadhav in a ‘sub-jail’ near Islamabad, in the presence of Pakistani officials. “It was clear that Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims”, said our External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.

This was the first meeting with an Indian official since Jadhav was arrested by the Pakistani army in March, 2016. According to our MEA spokesperson, Jadhav looked clearly harried and he repeated the “confession” that he had already made. That confession was clearly made under extreme duress.

In his meeting with his mother and wife in 2017 too, Jadhav had made remarks which were clearly tutored and meant to support Pakistan’s claims that he was an Indian Navy officer sent to carry out terrorist attacks in Balochistan.

After Monday’s consular access, India has said that it would “continue to work towards ensuring that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India”.

In response to a query as to why India accepted Pakistan’s offer after having earlier rejected it because of pre-conditions, the spokesperson said that the meeting was important to gauge the health and well-being of Jadhav. There is a possibility that India may ask again for consular access. This time, Pakistan had cited jail manual to deny permission to the Indian diplomatic to speak to Jadhav in private.

Until and unless Jadhav can speak fearlessly to Indian officials about the circumstances in which he was arrested and then allegedly tortured to give a “confession”, any such consular access with be nothing less than a sham. The International Court of Justice should take note of this in the light of the Vienna Convention.

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