By Saad Sayeed
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan allowed the wife and mother of an Indian man convicted of spying to visit him on Monday in Islamabad, eight months after he was sentenced to death by a military court.
Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, a former officer in the Indian navy, was arrested in March 2016 in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan, where there has been a long-running conflict between national security forces and militant separatists.
The case has added to tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who often accuse each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire along their disputed border in Kashmir, where the countries sometime engage in intense artillery duels.
Pakistan released a picture of Jadhav’s mother, Avanti, and wife, Chetankul, seated at a desk and speaking to him from behind a glass window.
“The mother and wife of Commander Jadhav sitting comfortably in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan. We honour our commitments,” a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office, Mohammad Faisal, said in an earlier Twitter posting when the women first arrived at the ministry in Islamabad.
India’s foreign affairs office has not responded to a request for comment on the meeting.
After Jadhav was sentenced to death in April, India asked the World Court for an injunction to bar the execution, arguing that he was denied diplomatic assistance during what it says was an unfair trial.
The World Court ordered Pakistan in May to delay Jadhav’s execution, and said Islamabad had violated a treaty guaranteeing diplomatic assistance to foreigners accused of crimes.
Pakistan authorities say Jadhav confessed to being ordered by India’s intelligence service to conduct espionage and sabotage in Baluchistan “to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan”.
Baluchistan is at the centre of a $57 billion Chinese-backed “Belt and Road” development project that at first focussed on Chinese companies building roads and power stations, but is now expanding to include setting up industries.
In a transcript released by Pakistan of what it says is Jadhav’s confession, the former naval officer says disrupting the Chinese-funded projects was a main goal of his activities.
(Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Tom Hogue)