Jadhav case: Pakistan picks new name for battle in ICJ

The Asian Age With Agency Inputs

India, All India

The ICJ on Thursday had barred Pakistan from executing Jadhav the court pronounces its final decision in the case.

File photo of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of 'espionage'. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi/Islamabad: Pakistan’s attorney-general Ashtar Ausaf Ali will now apparently plead Pakistan’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Jadhav case, after the Pakistan foreign office was criticised for its “poor handling” of the case and for its choice of Britain-based Khawar Qureshi as counsel. 

Stung by the adverse verdict at the ICJ, Pakistan is also considering the option of dragging India to the ICJ over the Kashmir dispute. In other developments on Saturday, a beleaguered Pakistan PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz lambasted India, and said, “The ICJ has only asked Pakistan to keep a stay on (former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan) Jadhav’s execution until it arrives at a decision.” Aziz added defiantly that “when there will be matter of our national interest and security, then there will be no compromise.” To play down Pakistan’s defeat at the ICJ, a beleaguered Aziz also referred to a statement reportedly made by former Indian Supreme Court judge M. Katju that it was a mistake on India’s part to go to the ICJ as Pakistan may raise the Kashmir issue there anytime. Pakistan foreign ministry officials have reportedly said the government is considering the option of moving the ICJ over disputes with India, including the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan also said the Jadhav case would be taken to its “logical conclusion in accordance with Pakistan’s law and constitution.” But the Nawaz Sharif Government is facing the heat domestically, with the ruling PML-N in the Pakistani Punjab Assembly today foiling the Opposition’s attempt to move a resolution there which accused the Nawaz Sharif government of “conspiring” to provide relief to Jadhav at the ICJ.

The ICJ on Thursday had barred Pakistan from executing Jadhav the court pronounces its final decision in the case. 

Responding to questions at a press conference in Islamabad about the legal team representing Pakistan, Mr Aziz said Pakistan had “only five days to prepare for the appearance ...The decision to send Khawar Qureshi was a unanimous one”. 

He, however, added that Pakistan will further strengthen its legal team and that it will go forward into the case with full preparation. “We will go with a strong team in the next hearing,” he added. “The ICJ has only asked Pakistan to keep a stay on Jadhav’s execution until it arrives at a decision,” Mr. Aziz said, claiming also that whenever it comes to cases involving the death penalty, the international court has always given a stay order. He said the ICJ has not decided on consular access either and has only intimated that the matter will come under discussion.

Interestingly, the fact that Mr. Aziz referred to Mr. Katju’s opinion has raised eyebrows. Mr. Katju was quoted as saying in a social media post, “People are gloating over India’s victory before the ICJ regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav. My own opinion is that it was a serious mistake for India to go to the ICJ on this issue, as we have played into Pakistan’s hands, and given it a handle to open up many other issues . In fact that is why it seems that Pakistan did not seriously object to the jurisdiction of ICJ. Now it is certain that Pakistan will approach the ICJ for deciding the Kashmir dispute, and it will then hardly lie in our mouth to object to the jurisdiction of ICJ, since we cannot blow hot and cold together. Pakistan must be very happy that we went to the ICJ over a single individual’s fate, as now they can raise all kinds of issues, particularly Kashmir, in international fora, to which we had always objected till now.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali was also quoted as saying, “The correct position is that Pakistan had signed off to an unconditional declaration to agree to the jurisdiction of the ICJ way back in September 1960. In March 2017, we made a declaration of exceptions reservations, and conditions.” He said that the original — 1960 declaration — was without reservations and exceptions. Pakistan prior to March 2017 had signed up to an ipso facto (by the fact itself) compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. “We had become signatory to a declaration of submission to jurisdiction without any exceptions in September 1960.”

In March 2017, Mr Ali said, Pakistan created the firewalls, including the one relating to the security of Pakistan for the first time. He explained that in the present case, the ICJ is not looking at this aspect of the matter. “They are looking at the Vienna Convention and the optional protocol to the convention. India and Pakistan both are signatories to this. The optional protocol invests the ICJ with powers and jurisdiction to decide disputes between member states. If we were to withdraw this declaration, we would have to go back to 1960 declaration which gives jurisdiction without exceptions,” he maintained.