Details of Jadhav’s meeting with family to be worked out: FO

ISLAMABAD: New Delhi has accepted Islamabad’s offer for a meeting between convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife, mother and an Indian diplomat.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, while speaking at the weekly media briefing, confirmed the receipt of Indian acceptance.

The meeting would now take place on Dec 25. “The details and modalities of the meeting will now be worked out,” the spokesman said.

Pakistan had initially offered a meeting between Jadhav and his wife on “humanitarian grounds”. However, India made the acceptance of the offer conditional to permission for his mother and an Indian diplomat to accompany her. After extensive deliberations, the Indian request was allowed and last week Dec 25 was proposed as the meeting date.

Jadhav was captured in March last year from Balochistan and tried for sabotage, espionage and terrorism by a military tribunal and was this year convicted and sentenced to death. His appeal against death sentence has been dismissed, while the mercy petition is awaiting Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s decision.

The development in the spy case has happened around the submission of Pakistan’s counter-arguments at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that is hearing an Indian petition challenging denial of consular access to Jadhav by Pakistan.

The counter memorial was submitted by Pakistan at The Hague on Wednesday (Dec 13).

“The extensive and detailed legal arguments prepared by the Counsel for Pakistan, Barrister Khawar Qureshi Queen’s Counsel (QC), were filed at the ICJ in accordance with the court timetable,” Dr Faisal said describing it as “a comprehensive and robust document”.

Dr Faisal, who is also government’s co-agent in the case, while expressing confidence in the court, said: “We are fully confident that the ICJ will have regard legal principles, as well as its existing case law, to reject the claims made by India.”

Missile test

Denouncing latest Indian missile test, the spokesman said, “Indian thirst for becoming a regional hegemon is casting a dark shadow on South Asia”.

India had last week tested Akash, the first surface-to-air missile equipped with indigenous radio frequency seeker.

The spokesman said India had pushed the region into arms race. “Its hegemonic designs are a cause of serious concern not only to Pakistan but also to the entire region,” he added.

Afghan conflict

In what could be a major step towards trust building between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two sides have agreed to set up a coordination mechanism between their militaries.

The spokesman disclosed that “the two sides agreed to place liaison officers at each other’s army headquarters and also establish ground coordination centres”.

The agreement was reached during a visit by an Afghan military delegation led by the military operations chief.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had during a visit by Gen Bajwa to Kabul on Oct 1 agreed on having comprehensive bilateral engagement agenda.

Later, Pakistan shared with Afghanistan a blueprint for engagement called ‘Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity’ envisioning “constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement” in political, economic, military, intelligence domains through working groups.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had acknowledged the proposal during his statement at the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process held in Baku on Dec 1, 2017, saying it would provide the basis of a dialogue. Afghanistan is yet to formally respond to the proposal.

Responding to a question about the extension of Afghan refugee cards, Dr Faisal said different options were being considered and no decision has been taken as yet.

The validity of current POR (Proof of Residence) refugee cards is due to expire on Dec 31.