KARACHI, Pakistan / NEW DELHI, India 

Pakistan on Wednesday said it has invited India to challenge the conviction of its alleged spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row.

In a news briefing, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui said Islamabad had invited India to file a review and reconsideration petition after refusal by Jadhav to do so.

Earlier on Wednesday, a senior Pakistani government lawyer, Ahmed Irfan told a news conference in Islamabad that Jadhav had refused to file a review petition against his conviction, even though the law allowed him to do so.

“In line with the ICJ [International Court of Justice] ruling, Pakistan amended the law, and invited Kulbhushan Jadhav on June 17 to file a review petition in [the] Islamabad High Court for the review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction. He instead preferred to follow up on his pending mercy petition,” Irfan said.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the mercy petition and review petition are two different processes.

In May, Pakistan passed an ordinance allowing the High Courts to review the sentence awarded by military courts.

The foregoing has been conveyed to India through diplomatic channels as well, she maintained.

– New Delhi responds

India rejected Pakistan’s claim that “Indian national” Jadhav had refused to initiate review petition.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that Jadhav was sentenced to execution through a “farcical trial”.

“He [Jadhav] remains under custody of Pakistan’s military. He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case. India sought unimpeded access to Shri Jadhav to discuss his remedies under the Ordinance,” the statement said referring to the May legislation.

“In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Shri Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the ICJ,” it added.

“India has repeatedly asked to allow a lawyer from outside Pakistan to appear for Shri Jadhav in any review and reconsideration proceedings. Pakistan has denied it,” it added.

– Consular access

The ICJ in July 2019 ruled that Jadhav be treated under the Vienna Convention, asking Pakistan to provide him consular access and continue to stay his execution.

Jadhav — who Pakistan says was a serving officer in the Indian Navy — was arrested in 2016 in the town of Mashkel in the Balochistan province, a few miles from the border with Iran.

Allegedly disguised as Mubarak Hussein Patel, a Muslim, he was accused of running a spy network for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s premier intelligence agency, from the Iranian port of Chabahar.

Video confessions of his spying were also released, which India claimed to have been recorded under duress.

A Pakistan military court sentenced him to death in April 2017 on espionage and terrorism charges. No date, however, was set for his execution, which would be by hanging.

New Delhi denies Islamabad’s charges, declaring Jadhav a retired naval officer who was “kidnapped” in Iran, where he was doing business but his presence in Pakistan was never explained credibly.

It had moved to the ICJ, which stayed the execution in May 2017 pending a final decision in the proceedings.

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