London/Islamabad/New Delhi: British public broadcaster BBC has defended the omission of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav's mention from its interview with Pakistan's Finance Minister Asad Umar, making it clear that it was "not an act of censorship".
In an interview to BBC's Stephen Sackur for the 'Hardtalk', Pakistan's finance minister answered questions on various issues of national importance, including the state of Pakistan's economy and the so-called 'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor'.
The TV version of the interview, however, did not contain his mention of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death in 2017 by a Pakistani military court on charges of alleged "espionage".
Pakistan's Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari criticised the BBC, accusing it of "deleting" the part about Kulbhushan Jadhav, terming it "typical bias" on the part of the broadcaster.
BBC 'Hardtalk' on Twitter, however, clarified that Kulbhushan Jadhav's name had been omitted from the TV version of the interview and not the radio version, and that it was not done to censor the minister's words.
"The reason Kulbhushan Jadhav's name was deleted from the TV version of the HARDtalk interview with Asad Umar has a simple technical explanation. The recorded interview was too long for our broadcast slot and so had to be edited. This was done separately for radio and TV," it explained in a tweet.
"His name was omitted from the TV version. This was not an act of censorship, but clearly confusion has been caused, so we are happy to restore that short section to the TV broadcast and we'll give the new programme an extra airing tonight as well as tomorrow morning," the broadcaster said.
On BBC's explanation, the Pakistani human rights minister accused the British public broadcaster, saying: "As pathetic an explanation as any! BBC's bias has always been there and then there are mega bucks to be earned from India!"
As pathetic an explanation as any! BBC's bias has always been there and then there are mega bucks to be earned from India! https://t.co/F9YDKGpPk9— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) December 14, 2018
Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Kulbhushan Jadhav from restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.
India maintains that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy. Kulbhushan Jadhav's sentencing had evoked a sharp reaction in India.
After Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death, India moved the International Court of Justice against the verdict in May 2017.
The world court has halted Kulbhushan Jadhav's execution on India's appeal pending the final verdict by it.
In October, the ICJ said it will hold hearings from February 18 to February 21 in the Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands, the seat of the court.