Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian national being held by Pakistan on espionage and terrorism charges, met his wife and mother at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after arriving in Islamabad on Monday morning.
Jadhav’s mother, Avanti, and wife, Chetankul, made a stop at the Indian High Commission prior to the meeting with the spy, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said.
The meeting was expected to last 30 minutes, but appeared to have been extended upon the family’s request, as it went on for about an hour and a half.
Avanti and Chetankul Jadhav were accompanied by Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh and three Indian foreign ministry officials, according to media reports.
During the meeting, only Jadhav’s family members were present with him, while Singh and FO officials, who were monitoring the meeting, were outside the room, according to the FO.
Jadhav’s wife and mother are expected to catch a flight back to India this evening.
India has requested that the family should not have any interaction with the media, the FO spokesperson said.
Pakistan has issued visas to Jadhav’s wife and mother on “humanitarian grounds”, and has consistently denied consular access to him, as the Vienna Convention does not apply to those involved in espionage, FO Spokesperson Dr Faisal told Dawn.
“The presence of JP Singh at today’s meeting should not be considered as consular access,” Dr Faisal said.
Indian media, however, reported that the meeting between Jadhav and his family members constitutes as “consular access” after Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on a Geo News talk show had said that the meeting is a “concession”.
Times of India quoted Asif as saying that the reason the meeting is taking place is because Pakistan didn’t want India to create the impression that Jadhav was denied access to his family, especially since the spy’s case is currently being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“We didn’t want any weakness in our case in the ICJ over the meeting… We have allowed access to Jadhav’s family purely on a humanitarian basis. However, if we were in the same place, India wouldn’t have been so kind to us.”
Earlier today officials said all arrangements were in place for the meeting between Jadhav and his wife and mother, and sharpshooters had been deployed at the sprawling FO building ahead of the meeting.
Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was arrested in Pakistan on espionage charges.
He was captured by security forces on March 3, 2016, in Balochistan and sentenced to death by a military tribunal earlier this year for his involvement in terrorism and espionage.
His appeals against the conviction have been rejected by the military appellate court and his mercy petition has been lying with Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
India has challenged Pakistan’s refusal to grant consular access to the spy in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The ICJ is hearing the case and has restrained the Pakistan government from executing Jadhav until it decides the case.
(Featured photo: Jadhav meets his wife and mother in Islamabad/ Pakistan Foreign Office)