Pakistan on Friday said that India’s request for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav is “not appropriate” at this point because a verdict on his case is pending at the International Court of Justice, PTI reported. India had made a fresh demand for access to Jadhav and four other Indian nationals on April 3.
Jadhav is on death row in Pakistan after being charged with allegedly spying for India in 2016. India had moved the international court against the death sentence in May 2017, after which his execution was stayed. The International Court of Justice at the Hague concluded its hearing on February 21 and its verdict is awaited.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied India access to Jadhav.
India has contended before the Hague court that this is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Article 36 of which says that consular officers have the right to visit a national of their country who is detained or taken into custody in on foreign shores “to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation”. India maintains that Jadhav, a former naval officer, was working on his private business in Iran when he was kidnapped by Pakistan.
Addressing the media in Islamabad on Friday, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said India has not yet responded to Pakistan’s questions about Jadhav’s passport. Pakistan has alleged that Jadhav had been using an Indian passport with the fake identity “Hussein Mubarak Patel”.
Faisal also announced that Pakistan would release 360 Indian prisoners – 355 fisherman and five civilians – who had completed their sentence this month as a “goodwill gesture”, reported Reuters. “We hope that India will reciprocate this,” he said.
Additionally, he spoke about Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. ““The abrogation of Article 370 of Indian constitution is violation of UN [United Nations] resolutions,” he said. “We will not accept it under any circumstances and the Kashmiris will also not accept it.”
Faisal said Pakistan is committed to getting the Kartarpur Corridor by the 550th birth anniversary of founder of Sikhism Baba Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019. “But it is important to have the meetings so that all issues about Kartarpur are settled,” he said. “In principle we are ready to open it as Prime Minister Imran Khan announced but it will be only possible if India agreed to it.”
The proposed corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Pakistan’s Narowal district. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died in Kartarpur in 1539. The corridor will allow Indian Sikh devotees to travel without visas to the pilgrimage site. The two countries were supposed to meet to discuss the project on April 2, but India last week postponed the talks.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday said they were committed to developing the corridor but Pakistan had not yet responded to the clarifications India had sought on some proposals put forth in an earlier meeting on March 14.