Kulbhushan Jadhav To Meet Family Amid Row Over Consular Access Claim

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Kulbhushan Jadhav

New Delhi: Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian sentenced to death in Pakistan, will meet his wife and mother today, more than a year after he was arrested by the Pakistani army and accused of spying. India has rejected Pakistan’s claim that since the Indian Deputy High Commissioner is accompanying the family, it constitutes “consular access”.

Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family landed in Islamabad via Dubai around noon. Mr Jadhav’s mother Avanti Jadhav and wife Chetankul Jadhav will be accompanied in the meeting by Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh.

The Pakistan foreign ministry clarified that this should not be taken as consular access, after its minister said the opposite.

“Pakistan permits the meeting of wife and mother of Commander Jadhav with him, as a humanitarian gesture, on the birthday of the Father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” tweeted Mohammad Faisal of the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The Press Trust of India had earlier quoted the country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif as saying that allowing an Indian diplomat with the family meant consular access to the 47-year-old. Indian officials said the diplomat is only going with the family for moral support and it cannot be construed as “consular access”.

This will be Mr Jadhav’s first meeting with his family after his arrest by the Pakistani army in March last year. Islamabad sat on the family’s request for months. They will leave right after the meeting that could last up to an hour.

India has sought “sovereign guarantee” from the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of Mr Jadhav’s family.

Mr Jadhav, a former officer of the Navy, was sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan in April. India says he was kidnapped from Iran, where he runs a business.

Over the 21 months since his arrest, Pakistan has repeatedly refused to give India consular access to the former naval officer and sentenced him to death through what India describes as a “kangaroo court”. The top United Nations court or the International Court of Justice had halted his execution in May this year on India’s appeal.

The meeting comes through weeks before the world court is to hear India’s appeal against the death sentence on grounds that the Indian national never got an opportunity to defend himself before he was sentenced.

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