Pakistan ‘to offer meeting between jailed Indian man, mother’

Pakistan is considering the possibility of allowing a meeting between an Indian man it arrested  five years ago on charges of espionage and his mother, a media report says.

Earlier this month, Pakistan offered a meeting between jailed “Indian spy” Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife.

Hamid Nehal Ansari was arrested in 2012 by forces in the Kohat region, near the Afghanistan border, for crossing over illegally into Pakistan. He has denied charges  of espionage and anti-state activities by Pakistani authorities and says he sneaked into the country in search of a woman he had befriended on social media .

Quoting sources, The Indian Express reported that the Indian government is also pushing for a “remission”, or cancellation, of the three-year rigorous imprisonment awarded to Ansari by a Pakistani military court in December 2015. “We are expecting some positive news soon,” sources said.

The meeting may be different from consular access sought by India. “It is likely to be a family meeting on humanitarian grounds. A final decision will be taken soon,” sources said.

So far, India has made 52 requests for consular access to Ansari. Pakistan’s foreign ministry has told Delhi that its authorities are “mindful of their responsibilities regarding Ansari who is safe, secure and in good health”.

Ansari was 27 when he was arrested from a hotel in Kohat. After leaving Mumbai for Afghanistan on a tourist visa on the pretext of searching for a job in November 2012, Ansari allegedly crossed into Pakistan without travel documents and with a fake ID card under the name “Hamza”.

His whereabouts were unknown until 2015, when Pakistan said that Ansari was tried in a military court and awarded a three-year jail term starting December 15 that year.

In November, Ansari filed a petition with the Peshawar High Court requesting that he should not be treated as a spy as he was not involved in “anti-state activities” and had only entered the country without valid documents. Citing these grounds, he had sought “remission” of his sentence.

Subsequently, the bench of Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ijaz Anwar Khan asked Pakistan’s defence and interior ministries as well as the provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to submit their replies.

Ansari’s mother Fauzia had previously said she came to know months after her son left that he was in love with the woman he had befriended and had crossed over to prevent her from marrying another man.

(Featured photo: Hamid Nehal Ansari / NDTV)

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