‘Pakistan will ensure the meeting is free, fair, meaningful and effective’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said it would grant consular access to an alleged Indian spy on death row Monday, weeks after the International Court of Justice called for a review of his sentence in a case that has stoked tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. “Consular access for Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer and RAW operative, is being provided on Monday 2 September 2019,” tweeted foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal late Sunday.
A senior Indian government official confirmed the meeting, and told AFP that New Delhi hoped “Pakistan will ensure right atmosphere so that the meeting is free, fair, meaningful and effective in keeping with the letter and spirit of the ICJ orders”. The decision comes weeks after the ICJ in July ordered Islamabad to provide the prisoner with consular access but rejected India’s demand that Jadhav be freed.

The 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.

ISLAMABAD: A car carrying Indian diplomats is pictured as they leave the Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry building after meeting with an Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer and RAW operative. — AFP

9/11 plotters
In other news, alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp will finally go on trial in 2021, almost two decades after the devastating Al-Qaeda attack, the New York Times reported Friday. A military judge at the US Navy’s Guantanamo, Cuba base set the date for the death-penalty trial for January 11, 2021, according to the newspaper. The date was included in a scheduling order for pre-trial activities by the military judge, Colonel Shane Cohen, the Times said.

The five will be the first to go on trial in the military commissions established to handle the “War on Terror” detainees captured and sent to Guantanamo after September 11, 2001 attacks that left 2,976 people dead in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd Al-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Al-Hawsawi were accused of planning and participating in the plot hatched by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to hijack four airliners and crash them into New York’s World Trade Center and buildings in Washington.
Two of the planes struck the World Trade Center, another hit the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers, having learned of the other flights, fought the hijackers. The five were formally charged in 2012 with conspiracy, attacking civilians, murder in violation of the law of war, aircraft hijacking and terrorism.

Mohammed, a Pakistan native thought to be about 54, is a key figure in the trial: he has been accused of being the mastermind of the 9/11 plot. He was captured in Pakistan in 2003. Turned over to the US Central Intelligence Agency, he underwent severe torture, including repeated waterboarding, as US officials sought to learn more about the plot and Al-Qaeda. – AFP