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NEW DELHI: Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s letter asking for a “sovereign guarantee” of security for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family if and when they visit him in Pakistan. Minister of state for external affairs V K Singh told journalists on Thursday, “Talks are still in progress.
They (Pakistan) are yet to provide guarantee on the safety aspect”. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is in Sochi, Russia, attending the SCO heads of government meeting. But sources said there was little chance of her meeting Pakistani PM Khaqan Abbasi, who is also attending the summit.
On November 23, MEA spokesperson said they had responded to Pakistan’s sudden offer to grant access to Jadhav’s wife to visit him in prison in Pakistan. This took India by surprise, as it had repeatedly sought access for Jadhav’s mother.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said last week, “We have conveyed that the wife of Jadhav would like to travel along with her motherin-law for the meeting. We have sought sovereign guarantee from the government of Pakistan to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the wife and mother of Jadhav and that they shall not be questioned, harassed or interrogated during their visit and stay in Pakistan. We have further asked that a diplomat of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad shall be allowed to accompany them, including during the meeting.”
Senior sources in the Indian government are not surprised. Pakistan has been going through severe political crisis in the past few days, which has battered the already diminishing authority of the civilian government. The army was called out to negotiate a peace deal with protesting Islamists who had blocked the Faizabad interchange for almost three weeks, bringing Islamabad and Rawalpindi to a halt.
The “peace deal” resulted in the law minister having to quit, putting the PML(N) government on the back foot. It is highly unlikely that the civilian foreign ministry would be able to take a call on the Indian response, without instructions from military.
In the past there have been instances of Indians, like the clerics of Nizamuddin Dargah, being “abducted” and questioned for a few days, and only released after the matter escalated to the highest levels.
India doesn’t want to put itself in a position where it’d be negotiating for the release of the two women while fighting to free Jadhav. That would give Pakistan too much leverage. Besides, India’s insistence on sending the mother is to get a better sense of the identity of the man Pakistan says is Jadhav.
Meanwhile, the ICJ has given Pakistan time till December 13 to file documents in support of its claim and to respond to India’s documents filed in September.