Kulbhushan Jadhav meets family – separated by glass panel

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Islamabad: The mother and wife of Mumbai-based former naval officer-turned-businessman Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested on March 3, 2016, and was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism meet him at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad on Dec 25, 2017. The meeting, with the death row prisoner lasted for about 40 minutes, but with a glass panel separating them and spoke through a speaker phone. The meeting started at 2.18 p.m., according to the Foreign Office. Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh, who accompanied Jadhav's family, was seen watching the reunion from a distance. (Photo: Twitter/@ForeignOfficePk)

Islamabad, Dec 25 : In a public relations exercise, Pakistan on Monday arranged a meeting between Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav, and his mother and wife for about 40 minutes – through a glass panel – at the Foreign Office here but did not allow a private discussion between them.
In a meeting described as a “grand gesture” by the Pakistan government on the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Jadhav, who Islamabad claims is an Indian spy, came face to face with his 70-year-old mother Avanti and wife Chetankul after a gap of 22 months. 

Separated by a glass partition in the heavily-guarded building, they spoke through an intercom watched by the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh who escorted them to the meeting. 

The interaction started around 2.18 p.m. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal tweeted images showing Jadhav speaking to his mother and wife in a specially prepared room.

Singh was seen watching the reunion from a distance. Foreign Office Director India Desk Dr Fariha was also present at the meeting, which was videographed. 

Pakistani authorities have said the meeting was allowed “purely on humanitarian grounds”, but it did not allow a one-on-one meeting between Jadhav and his family. 

Jadhav’s family was later taken to the Indian High Commission before their return to India via Oman. His mother thanked the Pakistan Foreign Office for allowing the meeting.

In an earlier tweet, Faisal shared a photo of Jadhav’s mother and wife sitting in the Foreign Office. He said: “The mother and wife of Commander Jadhav sitting comfortably in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan. We honour our commitments.” 

After the meeting, the Foreign Office spokesperson called Jadhav “the face of Indian terror” and said it would decide on consular access to him at an appropriate time. It added that the meeting between Jadhav and his family was not the last.

“This is not the last meeting. Let me say it categorically,” Faisal told reporters after former Indian Navy officer Jadhav’s wife and mother met him after his arrest on March 3, 2016 from Balochistan, as Pakistan claims. 

Jadhav’s case is pending before the International Court of Justice. 

Faisal said the two women spoke “openly and had a productive meeting” with Jadhav. 

“It was a positive gesture, extended on humanitarian grounds. We extended the meeting by 10 minutes on the request of Jadhav’s family. It has nothing to do with legalities,” Faisal said.

The spokesperson also “categorically” denied it was a consular access even as the Indian Deputy High Commissioner was present during the meeting.

“The Indian diplomat could see the meeting but was not allowed to meet. It would have been consular access had the Indian diplomat spoken to Jadhav,” he said, adding the Indian request for a possible consular access was with Pakistan and “would be taken up at an appropriate time”.

Faisal also said that Pakistan wanted the wife and mother of Jadhav to speak to the media, including the Indian media, at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. “This was done in the spirit that Pakistan has nothing to hide and like all of you seeks answers to many questions that remain unanswered. However, the Indian side requested that they wanted to avoid media interaction.”

Faisal reiterated that the meeting did not mean any change in Pakistan’s stance regarding Jadhav, who he termed “a spy and terrorist who has been sentenced to death”.

“Jadhav is the face of Indian terror in Pakistan. He has confessed to killing Aslam Chaudhary. He expressed remorse for taking Pakistani lives. He is a serving naval officer, has confessed to being a RAW agent,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a video message released by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry as part of a propaganda offensive, Jadhav thanked Islamabad for the “grand gesture”.

“I requested a meeting with my wife and mother and I am thankful to government of Pakistan for this grand gesture,” he said.

The video also showed Jadhav saying that “he worked for Indian intelligence agency RAW, adding that he entered Pakistan through Iran”. Jadhav also said that he was arrested by Pakistan’s security agencies from Balochistan. 

Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May. 

India has said that Jadhav is innocent and has maintained that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had gone for handling his businesses after superannuation from the Indian Navy.

Despite the death verdict, Pakistan last week reiterated that he was not under threat of an immediate execution as his mercy petitions were still pending.
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