Pakistan says it has been 'open and transparent' about Kulbhushan Jadhav meeting
The meeting initially was scheduled for 30 minutes but was extended to 40 minutes on their request
Pakistan on Thursday said it has been "open and transparent" throughout the meeting between alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife and mother, and added that it was not an ordinary meeting as Jadhav is "a convicted Indian terrorist and spy" and, therefore, it necessitated a "comprehensive security check" of the visiting kin.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, in a reply after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj slammed Pakistan over "serious and gross violation of human rights" in the treatment of Jadhav's mother and wife, rejected the Indian allegations.
He said that "Pakistan has been open and transparent throughout the meeting, offered in good faith. We do not wish to indulge in fallacious accusations and blame game and should focus on the bigger positive outcome that the meeting happened, despite immense challenges and impediments, instead of distortion of facts and baseless propaganda, which vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive."
Referring to the "intense hue and cry in the Indian media questioning the modalities of the visit, and advancing farfetched conspiracy theories about the change of clothes of the visitors, the retention of the shoe of the wife and the language in which the meeting was conducted", the Minister said that "Pakistan's humanitarian gesture did not obviate the fact that this was not an ordinary meeting between a mother and wife with their son and husband".
"A comprehensive security check was, therefore, essential. This was agreed between both countries, in advance, through diplomatic channels. The visitors were treated with respect and dignity. The change of clothes and removal of jewellery/ornaments etc was purely for security reasons. The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The wife's shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed," the Foreign Office statement said.
Asif elaborated that "many routine airport security checks for ordinary people entail removal of crosses and veils. Trying to distort an agreed security check and attempting to portray it as a deliberate religious/cultural disrespect denotes bad faith and is regrettable. It is unfortunate that the frenzied Indian media is driving Indian politics."
He said that "Pakistan has been open and transparent throughout the meeting, offered in good faith". He said the purpose of the visit was to have a meeting between Jadhav and his wife and mother, "which was successfully achieved despite all impediments. This needs to be acknowledged".
The meeting initially was scheduled for 30 minutes but was extended to 40 minutes on their request. "The success of the meeting was evident by the fact that the mother thanked Pakistan after the visit," he added.
The Foreign Office spokesperson, during the briefing, said the meeting "was not allowed to be conducted in Marathi due to security reasons. There is nothing sinister in that. They spoke comfortably in English for about 40 minutes which is duly recorded (again India was pre-informed that the meeting would be recorded)".
"The mother was allowed to say a short prayer in Hindi/Marathi."On the media presence outside the building, he said "Pakistan had formally proposed a detailed media interaction of the visitors, including with Indian media to be held in the Foreign Office. This was even shared with the Pakistani media, well beforehand. However, this proposal was turned down by India in writing. This was respected and the Indian request was accepted.
"However, media has every right to ask questions from a safe distance (in line with international norms). No specific distance was agreed to, as reported in certain sections of the media. However, the situation on ground in MoFA was shown to the officers of Indian High Commission in the evening of December 24 and they consented to it. Indian media is driving its policy. Unlike India, media in Pakistan is not under any restrictions or gag orders."
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