Indian residents offer prayers next to placards with a picture of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national convicted of spying in Pakistan, in the Mumbai neighborhood where he grew up on July 17. Photo: AFP

Pakistan granted consular access to an alleged Indian spy on death row Monday, sparking claims from New Delhi that the prisoner was under “extreme pressure” and unable to speak freely during the meeting.

The consular visit comes weeks after the International Court of Justice in July ordered Islamabad to provide the prisoner and alleged spy – Kulbhushan Jadhav – with consular access but rejected India’s demand that he be freed.

“While we await a comprehensive report, it was clear that Shri Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims,” said India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar in a statement.

The spokesman added that India would decide its next moves after receiving a detailed report from its deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan Gaurav Ahluwalia who met with Jadhav.

“The government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Shri Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India,” Kumar added, using a common Indian honorific.

Pakistan officials, however, said they provided “unimpeded, uninterrupted consular access to India to Commander Jadhav” during a two-hour meeting in the presence of Pakistani authorities, according to a statement issued late Monday by the foreign ministry.

Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, was arrested in March 2016 in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan – a region where Islamabad has long accused New Delhi of backing separatist rebels.

According to Indian officials, Jadhav retired from the navy in 2001 and was running a “logistics” business in the Iranian port of Chabahar.

New Delhi insists he was taken captive in Iran before being moved to Pakistan and then forced to confess.

Tensions have soared between the arch-rivals in recent weeks following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move last month to revoke the autonomy of its portion of the disputed Kashmir region.

In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched a diplomatic offensive against India and led mass protests lambasting Modi.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence and has been the spark for two major wars and countless skirmishes between the rivals.


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