Kulbhushan Jadhav death sentence: Pakistan rejects 14th Indian request for consular access

Indian high commissioner to Pakistan on Friday met the Pakistani foreign secretary, seeking consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. The request was denied by Islamabad.

Pakistan on Friday rejected yet another Indian request for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Navy man sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court. This was the 14th time Islamabad rejected New Delhi's attempt to gain consular access to Jadhav.

Earlier on Friday, India's high commissioner to Pakistan, Gautam Bambawale, met with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in Islamabad seeking consular access to Jadhav.

The request was refused. "We demanded a meeting (with Jadhav), but they denied," Bambawale told reporters after meeting Janjua, according to news agency IANS.

New Delhi has said it had previously made 13 attempts to get consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, but all of those requests were turned down by Islamabad.

During the meeting, Bambawale demanded that Pakistan provide India with certified copies of the charge sheet against Jadhav as well as the military court judgment.

The Indian diplomat also he has no information about former Pakistani army officer Mohammad Habib, who is said to have gone missing from Nepal. There has been media speculation that Indian spy agencies took him captive.

'DUE PROCESS FOLLOWED'

According to statement with news agency PTI, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Janjua said "due judicial process was followed" during the trial against Jadhav and that "he was provided a lawyer in accordance with relevant laws and the constitution of Pakistan".

Janjua's statement went on to allege that Pakistanis "incarcerated" in Indian prisons have not been provided consular access for years, despite repeated requests by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

Referring to the recent Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha discussions on Jadhav, Janjua added that the "rhetoric in the Indian Parliament was unwarranted and only added to fuelling hatred against Pakistan which was not conducive for promoting cordial ties between the two countries, in accordance with our Prime Minister's vision for peace in the region."

DIPLOMATIC WAR

The two countries continued with their diplomatic war over Jadhav, who was sentenced to death on April 10 by the Pakistani military over espionage charges.

On Friday, Pakistan's de facto foreign affairs chief Sartaj Aziz slammed the "inflammatory statements and rhetoric of premeditated murder" raised by the Indian government, going on to claim that Jadhav was "tried under the law of the land in a fully transparent manner".

The sentencing, Aziz added, was "based on credible, specific evidence proving his involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan".

He also claimed that India had failed to respond to a letter of assistance seeking information and access to witnesses that Islamabad had shared with New Delhi on January 23.

The Pakistan foreign policy chief then alleged that India has not provided a "credible explanation of why their naval commander was in Balochistan".

A few hours later, Home Minister Rajnath Singh refuted Aziz's claims, saying, "I don't think he was given a transparent trial at all".

'INDIA CALLS OFF TALKS'

Meanwhile, according to a Times of India report, the Indian government has called off maritime security talks between the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency and the Indian Coast Guard.

A delegation of the PMSA, the report says, was supposed to arrive in India next week in what would have been the first Indian visit by a Pakistani delegation since last year's attack by militants on an Indian Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri.

The Times of India also reported that this week's Indus Water Treaty-mandated secretary-level talks that were supposed to happen in the United States over the dispute, have been postponed as well.

RIGHT TO APPEAL

Pakistan foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz on Friday noted that Jadhav has the right to appeal his death verdict within 40 days to a higher court in Pakistan.

Jadhav can also file a mercy petition with General Qamar Bajwa, the Pakistani army chief who confirmed the military court's verdict, within 60 days in case he loses the appeal.

If General Bajwa rejects Jadhav's petition, the Indian national's last option would be to file a mercy petition with the Pakistani president within 90 days.

Islamabad has maintained that Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer whom Pakistan accused of being a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) spy, received a fair trial following his arrest in May last year.

New Delhi, on the other hand, has slammed the secretive manner in which Jadhav was tried and condemned to death and has said that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and was taken to Pakistan.

Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj warned Pakistan of dire consequences if Jadhav was hanged, saying his execution would be termed by India as "pre-mediated murder".

Swaraj, who has vowed to go to any extent to secure Jadhav's release, also slammed Pakistan for repeatedly denying consular access to Jadhav and termed the proceedings under which was sentenced "farcical".

(Story has been edited to include the Pakistan foreign secretary's comments)

(With inputs from agencies)

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