ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is rejecting reports authorities plan to execute an Indian death row prisoner soon after arranging a meeting with his relatives next week in Islamabad.
Former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in early 2016 in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. In April this year, a military court sentenced him to death for espionage and terrorism against Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal confirmed Thursday visas have been issued to the mother and wife of Jadhav. He told reporters at his weekly press conference the two are scheduled to arrive and meet Jadhav on December 25.
"Execution is totally not in the forecast," he said. "These are just comments in the air, mere hearsay. There is no such thing. This is our rich tradition in Islamic history about such meetings. He is a terrorist, he is the spy, not his mother and his wife. So the meeting has nothing to do with anything else."
The spokesman reiterated that his government is arranging the meeting "purely on humanitarian grounds" and acting on a request from Jadhav's family through diplomatic channels.
"The meeting will be held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We await further details from India in this regard," Faisal said. "Pakistan is ready and willing to permit media interaction with the wife and mother of Commander Jadhav. We await inputs from India in this regard."
India says Jadhav is a former officer of the Indian navy but rejects the charges against him as baseless, saying he has no connection with the government.
Pakistani officials insist Jadhav has confessed before the country's military court that he was tasked by the Indian intelligence agency "to plan, coordinate and organize espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities" against Pakistan.
India asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May to restrict Pakistan from executing Jadhav, arguing he was denied diplomatic assistance during what it called an "unfair trial." The ICJ suspended the execution, pending final judgment by the court.
Pakistan rejected India's assertions while submitting its reply to ICJ last week. Islamabad defended its stance of not granting diplomatic access to Jadhav, insisting he is a serving officer of the Indian Navy and entered the country with the intent of spying and carrying subversive acts.
Jadhav has filed an appeal with Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to seek clemency, which is still pending.