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Kulbhushan Jadhav appeared under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative: MEA

By Vishal S

New Delhi, Sep 02: Top diplomat at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met Kulbhushan Jadhav, former Indian Navy officer who is in Pakistani jail, today. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday said Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan's untenable claims.

Pakistan on Sunday announced that it would grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested in March 2016 by Pakistani authorities on "espionage and terrorism" charges.

Kulbhushan Jadhav

"The Charge d' Affaires, High Commission of India in Islamabad, met Kulbhushan Jadhav today. While we await a comprehensive report,it was clear that he appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan untenable claims," MEA said.

[Pakistan to grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav today]

"We"ll decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Charge d' Affaires and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives. External Affairs Minister has spoken to the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav and briefed her of today's developments," it added.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Monday's consular access is a part of the "binding obligations" of Pakistan as ordered by the ICJ to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a "farcical process".

He said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has spoken to Jadhav's mother and briefed her about the latest developments. "The government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India," Kumar said. Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. Weeks later, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and to challenge the death sentence.

On July 17, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in India's favour in Jadhav's case and affirmed that the right to consular access should be granted to the former Indian Navy officer.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Faisal on Sunday said Jadhav is being provided the consular access "in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement and the laws of Pakistan".

[Meeting between Indian diplomat and Kulbhushan Jadhav at sub-jail concludes]

The retired Indian Navy officer is on death row in Pakistan which has accused him of spying. On the death sentence awarded to the ex-navy officer in 2017 by a Pakistani military court, the ICJ in July said Jadhav's death sentence should remain suspended until Islamabad effectively reviews and reconsiders the decision. India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and has been wrongly framed.

The verdict in the high-profile case came nearly five months after a 15-member bench of ICJ led by Judge Yusuf had reserved its decision on February 21 after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings of the case took two years and two months to complete. India had in July said it is expecting full consular access to be granted to its national Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan.

Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India. In a reprieve for Jadhav, a 16-member bench of the International Court of Justice on July 17 by a 15-1 vote continued the stay on the execution and held that Islamabad violated New Delhi's rights to consular visits after his arrest.

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