ISLAMABAD: In a carefully choreographed event that unfolded in tweets, photos and TV footage, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying, met his wife and mother on Monday.
The 40-minute meeting, which took place after many representations, was arranged at the heavily guarded Foreign Affairs Ministry building, and came after the International Court of Justice asked Pakistan in May to stay his execution.
TV footage showed Jadhav’s mother Avanti and wife Chetankul entering the ministry building’s Agha Shahi Block, accompanied by India’s deputy high commissioner J P Singh and a Pakistani woman official. After they went in, the door shut behind them.
Pakistan Foreign Office later released pictures of Jadhav talking to his wife and mother from behind a glass screen. The communication between them took place through an intercom device.
The meeting started at around 1.35pm and lasted about 45 minutes, after which the entire party remerged, and were driven away in a white SUV.
Jadhav was at the ministry before his family arrived. It was not known where he had been kept before being transported to the foreign ministry.
TV footage showed a convoy of around seven vehicles escorting Jadhav’s family in the city.
Police and paramilitary security forces, including sharpshooters, were deployed at the ministry to deal with any untoward security situation, they said.
Roads leading to the Constitution Avenue, on which the ministry is located, were closed for traffic. Special security passes were issued for those visiting the Foreign Office, the officials added.
All the information about the meeting emerged through Pakistani foreign ministry tweets and images.
Earlier today, the two women arrived in Islamabad via Dubai on a commercial flight, and spent about 30 minutes at the Indian Embassy before being driven to the Foreign Ministry. Before the meeting, the security check of the family was performed.
“The mother and wife of Commander Jadhav sitting comfortably in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan. We honour our commitments,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal earlier tweeted along with a picture of the visitors.
From Pakistan’s side, Foreign Office Director for India, Dr Fareha Bugti, was present at the meeting.
The wife and mother greeted media persons with a namaste after arriving at the ministry but did not respond to their questions.
They also did not talk to the reporters while leaving the building, although journalists kept shouting questions.
Pakistan on December 20 issued visa to Jadhav’s wife and mother to visit Islamabad to meet him.
Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the ICJ in May. It is expected to hold another hearing in March or April.
Earlier today, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told a Pakistani media channel that Pakistan has granted India consular access to Jadhav since an Indian diplomat will be accompanying the prisoner’s wife and mother.
In India, officials downplayed the comments, maintaining that the Indian diplomat was only accompanying Jadhav’s family and it cannot be construed as “consular access”.
It was the fist time that Jadhav was meeting his family since his arrest in March, and Pakistan portrayed it as a humnaitarian gesture to mark the birthday of the country’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.