Chetankul, Jadhav’s wife, and Avanti, his mother, met him in the foreign office in Islamabad on December 25.
Islamabad: Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif on Thursday rejected India’s allegation of harassing the wife and mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav and said that investigators had found a “metal chip” in the shoes worn by Chetankul Yadav and were analysing it.
“A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed,” Mr Asif said.
Chetankul, Mr Jadhav’s wife, and Avanti, his mother, met him in the foreign office in Islamabad on December 25. Chetankul was asked to remove her shoes and use another pair for the meeting after a “metal object” was found in it. Officials suspected that it could be a recording device. Mr Jadhav, who has been convicted of terrorism and espionage by a Pakistani Army court, faces the death sentence.
Referring to the “intense hue and cry in India” about the change of clothes of the visitors, the retention of the shoe of the wife and the language in which the meeting was conducted,” the foreign minister underscored that Pakistan’s humanitarian gesture did not negate the fact that this was “not an ordinary meeting between a mother and wife with their son and husband.”
The reality, he said, remains that “Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav is a serving Indian Naval Officer and a convicted Indian terrorist and spy responsible for multiple deaths and destruction in Pakistan.”
Categorically rejecting India’s allegations, Mr Asif said the meeting was permitted on humanitarian grounds, in line with Islamic teachings and traditions of compassion and grace. “Trying to distort an agreed security check and attempting to portray it as a deliberate religious/cultural disrespect denotes bad faith and is regrettable. It is unfortunate that the frenzied Indian media is driving Indian politics,” Mr Asif said, and added that routine airport security checks often entail removal of Christian crosses and Muslim veils.
Stressing that Pakistan had been open and transparent throughout the meeting, offered in good faith, he said, “We do not wish to indulge in fallacious accusations and blame game and should focus on the bigger positive outcome that the meeting happened, despite immense challenges and impediments, instead of distortion of facts and baseless propaganda, which vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive”.
Mr Asif said a comprehensive security check was essential before Jadhav’s meeting with his wife and mother. “This was agreed between both countries, in advance, through diplomatic channels. The visitors were treated with respect and dignity. The change of clothes and removal of jewelry or ornaments etc. was purely for security reasons. The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting… The wife’s shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check,” the foreign minister said in his statement.
The minister said the meeting — initially scheduled for 30 minutes — was extended to 40 minutes on their request. “The success of the meeting was evident by the fact that the mother thanked Pakistan after the visit,” he remarked.
Mr Jadhav was sentenced to death by a military court on April 10, 2017, for allegedly carrying out espionage and sabotage activities in Balochistan and Karachi. India approached the International Court of Justice against the death sentence which stayed the execution until a verdict in the case.
Separately on Thursday, foreign office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan will continue the positive gestures irrespective of the response from India. “We will continue the goodwill gestures. Propaganda will not stop us,” he said at his weekly media briefing.
“Commander Jadhav is a spy and a terrorist. The meeting was not allowed to be conducted in Marathi due to security reasons. There is nothing sinister in that. They spoke comfortably in English for about 40 minutes which is duly recorded — again, India was pre-informed that the meeting would be recorded,” the spokesperson elaborated. The mother, he said, was allowed to say a short prayer in Hindi or Marathi.
He said Pakistan had formally proposed a detailed media interaction of the visitors, including with Indian media, in the foreign office. “However, this proposal was turned down by India in writing and the Indian request was accepted. However, media has every right to ask questions from a safe distance in line with international norms… Unlike India, media in Pakistan is not under any restrictions or gag orders,” he contended.