ISLAMABAD - Convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav thanked Pakistan on Monday for letting him meet with his mother and wife, who arrived here in the morning.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Jadhav’s mother and wife – Avanti Jadhav and Chetenkul Jadhav – had also appreciated Pakistan for the gesture of kindness and hospitality.

The meeting was arranged at the foreign ministry.

But many Pakistanis felt outraged at authorities’ organising the “family reunion” for a man whom the officials themselves dubbed as India’s “face of terror” and India’s martyring three Pakistani soldiers in Kashmir the same evening.

The mother and wife of Jadhav went inside the hall along with Pakistani and Indian diplomats – Dr Fareha Bugti and Indian Deputy High Commisioner J P Singh – to meet Jadhav. But the diplomats stayed at a distance, where they were unable to hear the family conversation.

The spy and his family members were not allowed any physical contact due to security concerns. They sat across a glass barrier and spoke initially for 35 minutes. The meeting time was later extended to 40 minutes upon Jadhav’s request.

VIP protocol and public outrage

Kulbushan Jadhav’s mother and wife had arrived at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport via Emirates Airlines flight EK-612 in the morning and left the same day.

All roads leading towards Diplomatic Enclave were closed and the Red Zone was sealed temporarily with barriers for their movement.

A contingent of media representatives covered every development despite the fact that they were not allowed to speak to the duo from India.

The VVIP protocol extended to Jadhav’s family members invited criticism from many Pakistanis – who believed that the killer of several innocent people did not deserve any kindness.

The public anger intensified in the evening when India resorted to heavy cross-border shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, martyring three Pakistani soldiers and injuring another.

India had initiated the “unprovoked ceasefire violation” that led to an exchange of fire between the two countries’ border forces at Rukh Chakri sector in Rawlakot, the ISPR said.

Video message

In a video message, apparently recorded before the meeting, Jadhav admitted, for a third time, that he was a former naval officer and was working for India’s Research and Analysis Wing when he crossed into Pakistan from Iran and was arrested.

In the message, released by the foreign ministry, the convicted spy said “I have been treated with dignity and honour, and in very professional manner by the Pakistani authorities.”

He added, “I requested a meeting with my wife on humanitarian grounds, and I have been informed that my mother and my wife are coming over to meet me. And, I am really thankful to Government of Pakistan for the grand gesture.”

Face of Indian terror

Briefing the journalists after Jadhav’s meeting with his family, Dr Faisal said that “convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav” was the face of Indian terrorism.

Jadhav’s meeting with his family, he said, was a positive gesture from Pakistan’s side as the country had nothing to hide.

“The request from Jadhav’s family was granted purely on humanitarian grounds. It was considered and granted. This was a positive gesture from Pakistan’s side,” he added.

The spokesperson noted that the Indian government had not provided an explanation as to how an Indian passport was used with a fake name.

“India was provided with a copy of Jadhav’s passport. Passport bears a Muslim name known as Hussain Mubarak Patel,” he explained.

Dr Faisal maintained Indian media was allowed to be part of this meeting however, there was no response.

“This meeting was not done to win at the International Court of Justice rather it was just to show that Pakistan thoroughly believes in basic human rights,” he said.

The family was not allowed to meet Jadhav physically as security was paramount.

“There was a partition between the two parties in the meeting due to security reasons,” Faisal added.

He said Pakistan wanted the wife and mother of Jadhav to speak to the media.

“This would have included the Indian media, as well. We had formally proposed this to India. This was done in the spirit that Pakistan has nothing to hide and like all of you, seeks answers to many questions that remain unanswered. However, the Indian side requested that they wanted to avoid media interaction,” Faisal added.

On Jadhav’s medical condition, the spokesperson said that detailed reports vividly showed that he was in perfect health.

To a question, Dr Faisal said that this would not be the last time that the family met Jadhav, adding they would be given permission later on too.

He denied any consular access was granted to the spy as the Indian diplomat was not allowed to speak to him.

Faisal said Jadhav was a serving Indian naval officer sentenced to death for his involvement in espionage, terrorism and subversive activities against Pakistan.

“He conducted these activities especially in Balochistan and Sindh provinces. He confessed about his condemnable actions before a judicial magistrate and court. He also stated that he was tasked by the Research [and] Analysis Wing to plan, coordinate and organise espionage, terrorism and sabotage aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan. He made every effort to impede the efforts of the law enforcement agencies and was eventually caught red handed. During his trial at the Field General Court Martial, he was provided a defending officer as per the law of the land,” the spokesperson elaborated.

In his mercy petition to the chief of army staff on compassionate grounds, in June 2017, Faisal said, Jadhav again admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities against Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of precious innocent lives and damage to property.

Expecting positive response from India, Faisal said such decisions should serve as templates for others to follow, including in Indian occupied Kashmir, where blood continues to be spilled.

Jadhav’s wife and mother also brought a gift for him but it is yet to be handed over to him.

‘Spy more valuable while alive’

A day before the much-hyped meeting, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal had said hanging Kulbhushan Jadhav did not suit Pakistan as his existence would keep the case alive.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was in no hurry to execute the alleged Indian spy as he still had his mercy appeal pending before the army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“Even if the army chief rejects his appeal, he can still file another appeal to the president [Mamnoon Hussain]. The army chief can take a decision in minutes or years. Same is the case with the president. His [Jadhav’s] existence is better than his death for us. This will keep the case alive. Or he will vanish like Ajmal Kasab [who was executed by India for alleged role in 2008 Mumbai attacks],” he said.

The spokesperson said the delay in Jadhav’s execution was not to bargain for former colonel Mohammed Habib’s release.

“This case has nothing to do with that. We have some many other things, if we wanted a bargain,” he argued.

Jadhav was arrested last year in the Balochistan province for spying and stoking terrorism and sectarianism in the country.

Islamabad also handed over dossiers to the UN regarding Jadhav’s confessional statement.

India has challenged Jadhav’s conviction in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but Pakistan disputed the jurisdiction after the court observed that turning down the request for consular access was a denial of right.

In May, the UN’s top court ordered Pakistan to stay Jadhav’s execution.