ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan on Friday offered India a meeting of convicted spy Kulbushan Jadhav with his wife on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

A foreign ministry statement said Pakistan has decided to arrange a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadav with his wife , in Pakistan “purely on humanitarian grounds”. “A Note Verbale to this effect has been sent to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad,” said the statement.

It said: “Commander Kulbushan Jhadav alias Hussain Mubarak Patel, a serving commander of the Indian Navy, working with Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and was apprehended by Pakistan law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016, after he illegally crossed over into Pakistan . He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by the RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities aimed at destabilising and waging war against Pakistan .”

Pakistan has been refusing consular access to the convict and has also conveyed its decision to the International Court of Justice – hearing the Jadhav case.

In a letter to the ICJ, Pakistan invited the United Nations court’s attention towards Jadhav’s role in terror acts across Pakistan that resulted in scores of deaths in the past.

Already Pakistan has asked India not to equate Jadhav with civilian prisoners and fishermen. In July too, Pakistan had rejected New Delhi’s plea to allow consular access to the spy.

The foreign ministry had then said counting Indian spy Jadhav in the list of civil prisoners and fishermen was a ‘travesty of logic’.

New Delhi had twice sought consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav –sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan . Both the times, Pakistan rejected the requests. India later challenged Jadhav’s conviction in the ICJ.

Pakistan has also challenged the jurisdiction of ICJ regarding the conviction of Jadhav after the court observed that turning down the request for consular access was a denial of right.

Presenting Pakistani stance, Director General of South Asia in Foreign Office Dr Muhammad Faisal had told the ICJ in May that under the Vienna Convention, hearing of criminal cases do not fall under the purview of the international court.

Dr Faisal said the spies did not have any right of counselor access and India did not produce evidence provided by Pakistan against Jadhav in the court. In May, the United Nations top court ordered Pakistan to stay the execution of Jadhav .

Pakistan had earlier communicated to the ICJ its designation of Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, a former chief justice of Pakistan , to be its judge ad-hoc in the Jadhav case.

The procedures of the ICJ allow a party to nominate a judge ad-hoc in circumstances where there is no judge of the court that has that party’s nationality. Currently, there is no judge of the court that has Pakistani nationality, whereas judge Dalveer Bhandari from India sits as a judge of the court. Those appointed as judge ad-hoc are treated as having the same authority on the court as any of the sitting judges.

Jadhav has filed a mercy petition to Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, to spare his life on ‘compassionate grounds’. Jadhav can still file another appeal to President Mamnoon Hussain if the army chief rejects his plea.

It is not clear what prompted Islamabad now to allow Jhadav's wife to meet him in Pakistan . There were speculations that the two countries discussed the issue in a recent meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Sawraj and the newly-appointed Pakistani High Commissioner to New Delhi Sohail Mahmood.

Pak-India tension has been running high since July 2016 after the killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani. The Indian forces later killed dozens of protesters who condemned the murder.

In September 2016 the tensions rose further as New Delhi blamed Pakistan for the Uri attack which inflicted the heaviest toll on the Indian army in a single incident in 14 years. Nineteen soldiers were killed in the strike. Pakistan denied any link. Conviction of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav has added to the tension.

Since partition in 1947, Pakistan and India have been involved in four wars - including one undeclared war - and many border skirmishes and military stand-offs. Kashmir has been the main source of tension.

Pakistan decision welcomed

Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has welcomed the decision of the Pakistani government, offering India a meeting of Kulbhushan Jadhav with his wife on humanitarian grounds. “It is a step in the right direction and it will send a positive message,” said the General Secretary PIPFPD India Jatin Desai in a statement in New Delhi.

Jatin Desai said that at the same time, we request Pakistan government to allow parents of young innocent Hamid Ansari to meet him. They are trying desperately to meet him for a long time, he said. “We also believe that both the countries must allow relatives of all arrested persons including fishermen to meet them,” Jatin said.

Jatin said that ideally, both Pakistan and India should release all the fishermen, women from their custody. He said that India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners had also unanimously recommended this step.