India did try to persuade Pakistan through back-channel to release Kulbhushan Jadhav: Harish Salve

By: |
May 3, 2020 3:15 PM

Pakistan claims that it arrested Jadhav on March 3, 2016. However, it informed India only after three weeks on March 25. After being informed, New Delhi sought for consular access, which was turned down by Islamabad.

Harish Salve was India’s lead counsel in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice. (IE)

Former Solicitor General of India Harish Salve has revealed that India had tried back-channel talks to persuade Pakistan to release Kulbhushan Jadhav. In an interaction with The Indian Express, Harish Salve, who was India’s lead counsel in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice and secured a stay on his death sentence, said that New Delhi was hoping that through the back-channel, India may be able to persuade Pakistan to let him go.

“If they (Pakistan) want to say – on humanitarian grounds or whatever, we want him back. We said, let him go. Because it’s become a big ego problem in Pakistan. So, we were hoping they would let him go, they haven’t,” Salve was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. The IE also reports that India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had, in one of his interactions with then Pakistan NSA Nasser Khan Janjua, ‘gently nudged’ Islamabad to release Kulbhushan Jadhav, who faced death sentence after being convicted on trumped-up charges.

Pakistan claims that it had arrested Jadhav on March 3, 2016. However, it informed India only after three weeks on March 25. After being informed, New Delhi sought for consular access, which was turned down by Islamabad. In April 2017, Pakistan sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and terrorism. Following this, India moved the international court in May next year challenging the illegal custody of Jadhav.

Reports suggest that the External Ministry of India — then headed by Sushma Swaraj — had asked Harish Salve to see if India had any case against Pakistan. Salve then looked into the case and was pretty confident that India can drag Pakistan to ICJ for denying Jadhav his rights of consular access therefore violating Vienna Convention.

Last year in July, the ICJ directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence to Jadhav. The court also observed that Pakistan had violated international law by not granting consular access. Acting on ICJ’s direction, Pakistan later allowed an Indian diplomat to meet Jadhav under watch. However, Salve is not convinced with the way the diplomat was allowed to meet. He said that India now will have to decide whether it should go to the court for further directions. “Because Pakistan has not moved ahead,” he said.

Confident that Pakistan had no evidence against Jadhav, Salve said Islamabad has not yet shared the FIR, the chargesheet or the judgment of the military court. He said that India had been writing to Pakistan asking it to show evidence against Jadhav. “They refuse to part with it. We will not give it to you (India)…I think they (Pakistan) have a serious problem on their hands. Other than the confession, they have nothing,” Salve said while speaking to IE.

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