Indian ‘spy’ Jadhav’s meeting with family exposes Pakistan

Islamabad said the meeting was a humanitarian gesture but in reality, it provided them an opportunity to insult and humiliate Jadhav’s family in particular and Indians in general

Former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, 47, who is on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying, was finally able to meet his mother and wife from behind a glass screen and speak through intercom device for 40 minutes, some 22 months after his controversial arrest.

The meeting, which took place after several representations, was a sham to insult and humiliate India and to project Pakistan before the world as a nation with a big heart. Although such a meeting is mandatory as per international conventions, Islamabad called it a “humanitarian gesture” in line with Islamic principles and teachings to mark the birthday of the country’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It was as if Pakistan was doing India a big favour.

Islamabad did not treat Jadhav’s family with respect. This became evident from the very start when his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul were forced to change their attire during the security check. Jadhav’s wife was forced to remove her mangalsutra, bangles, bindi and her shoes. Her shoes were inexplicably not given back to her. They were made to wait because Pakistan wanted them to hear anti-India slogans. Their meeting with Jadhav behind the glass screen and the talk over intercom was another proof of Pakistan’s lack of trust in the two visitors. It is shocking that they were not allowed to talk with Jadhav in their mother tongue, Marathi.

The meeting happened in a foreign affairs ministry building and not in a high security prison for Islamabad to obscure it with a glass screen.

The proceedings were all carefully choreographed to make it look as if Jadhav is the villain and Pakistan is the victim. But the camera cannot lie and it showed a different Jadhav looking older, pale, troubled and confused. His pre-recorded video thanking the Pakistan government for arranging the meeting appeared doctored as Jadhav’s speech was not in sync with his lip movements. Or he must have been speaking under duress. Even if the video was genuine, he must have been injected with some dangerous chemicals to disorient him as his earlier ‘confession’ video clearly indicates.

TV footage first shows Jadhav’s mother and wife entering the foreign ministry building, accompanied by India’s Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh and a Pakistani official. After they go in, the door is shut behind them.

All the information about the family meeting later emerged through Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s tweets and images. The pictures released show Jadhav talking to his wife and mother from behind a glass screen through an intercom device. The meeting goes on for about 40 minutes after which the entire party re-emerges and are driven away.

Later, addressing a press conference, spokesman of foreign office Dr Muhammad Faisal said “this was not the final visit”. He did not elaborate. To clear doubts among journalists about Jadhav’s state of health, he provided them with copies of his medical report from Saudi German Hospital in Dubai which showed Jadhav is in “good health” and “everything is normal”.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told a Pakistani TV channel that Islamabad has granted India consular access to Jadhav since an Indian diplomat will be accompanying the prisoner’s wife and mother.

Later, India ignored his comments, maintaining that Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh was only accompanying Jadhav’s family and it cannot be construed as “consular access”.

Despite India’s 18 representations to Pakistan seeking consular access to Jadhav, it has rejected them on the ground that a convicted spy does not deserve it. But Jadhav’s conviction was illegal as it happened in a kangaroo military court when he was a civilian doing modest business in an Iranian port after retirement as naval officer. India says he did not indulge in espionage in Baluchistan as alleged by Pakistan. Instead, he was kidnapped from Iran by criminals at the behest of Pakistani army. This was corroborated by a German envoy to Pakistan.

Round one of Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague went the Indian way in May when the chief judge asked Pakistan to stay his execution. Round two is expected in March or April. With Islamabad still defying Vienna norms by repeatedly denying consular access to Jadhav, India seems to have an upper hand in ICJ.

— E. Jayakumar