Kulbhushan Jadhav is a terrorist and New Delhi’s story is far-fetched at best. This was the opening salvo of Khawar Qureshi, Pakistan’s lawyer at The Hague in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which reserved its judgment on Monday on an Indian petition seeking stay on execution of Jadhav.
India invoked the jurisdiction of this court improperly, Qureshi said. “This court exists to ensure that states engage in peaceful resolution of disputes. This court does not exist for time-wasting and political grandstanding.”
Qureshi opened the arguments by stating that criminal cases do not fall within the purview of the Vienna Convention.
Foreign Office South Asia and Saarc Director General Dr Muhammad Faisal noted that whilst Pakistan and India share much in common, “we are on very different sides today. For our part we wish that were not so.” He added that Pakistan wishes to make it absolutely clear that it remains committed to the path of peaceful resolution of all disputes, whatever the provocation.
He also referenced recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, including “in the area where [Indian navy] Commander Jadhav was operating before his capture”, and hinted at an Indian role in these attacks.
Of the case, he said, “unfortunately, India has seen fit to use the International Court of Justice as a stage for political theatre. We regret this has been done. We will not respond in kind.”
“Indeed, it is somewhat ironic (but perhaps consistent), that India complains that it is not being given access to Commander Jadhav, who has confessed to having been sent by India to wage terror on the innocent civilians and infrastructure of Pakistan, and, in the same breath, has urged this Court to make an order without giving Pakistan any opportunity to be heard.”
He then referenced case details, including India’s failure to deny the authenticity of Jadhav’s passport, which bore a false name.
“We fully understand that this court is not concerned at this stage with an evaluation of the ‘merits’. We are not sure what merit there is in a state which sends a spy and terrorist seeking entitlement to untrammelled access to its tool for terror,” he said, before sharing a video of Jadhav’s confession.
As for India’s concern that Jhadav would be executed ‘within days’, he explained that Pakistani law would not allow for such a swift execution. He also bluntly noted that “we simply have no reason to stop the canary from singing. Others might wish that – we do not.”
He closed by thanking the court and noting that “Pakistan cherishes the freedom which was gained 70 years ago. It wishes to live in peace with its neighbours and hopes they will soon appreciate the virtue of such an approach.”
Earlier, Deepak Mittal, an official with India’s Ministry of External Affairs, claimed at the court in The Hague that Jhadav was “an innocent Indian national, who, incarcerated in Pakistan for more than a year on concocted charges, [has been] deprived of his rights and protection accorded under the Vienna Convention.”
Mittal claimed Pakistan did not respond to Indian demands for information about the case and snubbed requests for documents, including the charge sheet, and failed to provide Jadhav with consular access or even “the right to be defended by a legal counsel of his choice”.
“All that we know is what we have seen in the media in Pakistan,” he said, while adding the claim that Jhadav’s confession was forced.
He also regretted that Pakistan has also not responded to a visa application by Jadhav’s parents, who wanted to see their son.
After arguments, the court’s president Ronny Abraham said the tribunal would publicly deliver its decision on whether to grant an emergency stay of execution ‘as soon as possible’.
New Delhi ultimately wants the tribunal to order Islamabad to annul the sentence and declare that the Pakistani military court violated the Vienna Convention by imposing a death sentence on Jadhav.