The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced its verdict about the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and on July 17, this year. In its judgment, ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered Pakistan to allow India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and rejected India’s demand that Jadhav’s conviction by a military court be dismissed.
In the verdict, the Court stated that Pakistan should review the case, while considering, under the laws of Pakistan. The ICJ, however, rejected all other remedies sought by India, which included the annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, restricting Pakistan from executing the sentence, securing Jadhav’s release and ordering his return to India. Therefore, Pakistan now can consider whether the same military courts should adjudicate the matter or whether somehow an appeal should lie before the civilian courts in this case.
But, setting aside the facts of the ICJ verdict, Indian media and its political leaders misinterpreted the judgment by moulding it in favour of New Delhi. They manipulated India’s demand for consular access, but, ignored other major points which favour Islamabad.
In this regard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ICJ for “a verdict based on extensive study of facts”. Indian former external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj said: “I wholeheartedly welcome the verdict of International Court of Justice in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. It is a great victory for India”.
On the other side, taking cognizance of the reality, leaders of the ruling party-the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and main mainstream political parties, including renowned persons and experts appreciated the verdict of the ICJ, taking it as a victory of Pakistan over India.
Notably, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, claimed it was a “victory” for Pakistan, while confirming that Islamabad will not be releasing Jadhav”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) released a statement saying “Indian Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav entered Pakistan without a visa on authentic Indian Passport with a fake alias Hussain Mubarak Patel…Kulbhushan Jadhav is responsible for acts of sabotage, espionage and multiple terrorist incidents in which scores of innocent Pakistani citizens were killed resulting into umpteen women being widowed and numerous children becoming orphans…Jadhav has confessed all these acts during his trial in Pakistani court in front of a Judicial Magistrate. This is a clear case of Indian state terrorism”.
Following the judgment of the ICJ, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor, while speaking to a private TV channel congratulated the nation on “the success achieved” and lauded the efforts made by the legal team and the FO which represented Pakistan. He explained that it “is a big victory for Pakistan…the review and reconsideration can be done by means of our own choosing is great validation for our judicial system…It’s another Feb 27 for India; they have been surprised again. They thought that…they can manipulate justice too but that did not happen…India’s false narratives continue” and that “after this verdict they are practically certified to have undertaken state-sponsored terrorism and the world has seen what their role in Pakistan has been.”
In a tweet, Reema Omar, the International Legal Advisor for South Asia at the ICJ, admitted that India’s appeal for Jadhav’s release and return was not granted by the Court. The Court has rejected most of the remedies sought by India, including annulment of military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India”.
In her tweet, Nasim Zehra, senior journalist and author of Pakistan said: “The judgment acknowledges Pakistan’s position that Jadhav is a spy, while asking “a Pakistani court review the military court’s decision, it doesn’t quash the military court’s decision and safe passage to India”.
It is mentionable that Jadhav was a serving commander of the Indian Navy associated with Indian spy agency RAW and was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan province, as he was found involved in espionage and terrorism-related activities. In his subsequent trial at a military court, he had confessed to his involvement in terrorist plots. The spy was sentenced to death in 2017. However, India insisted that Jadhav was not a spy and alleged that he was kidnapped from Iran.
On April 10, 2017, Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa had endorsed the death penalty for Jadhav. In June 2017, the Indian spy had filed a mercy petition against the death penalty, in which he again confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities.
Nevertheless, before Pakistani authorities could make a final decision, the ICJ, after being approached by New Delhi, had ordered a stay in his execution through an interim order.
In February, this year, in their arguments, India’s lawyers told the Court that the case was “farcical” and based on “malicious propaganda”. Pakistan’s lawyers hit back by accusing Jadhav of “terrorism”. Pakistan’s attorney general stated that Jadhav’s “unlawful activities were directed at creating anarchy in Pakistan and particularly targeted the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) on July 18, 2019 announced, “As a responsible state, Pakistan will grant consular access to Commander Kulbushan Jadhav according to Pakistani laws, for which modalities are being worked out” with India.
It is noteworthy that showing optimistic approach, on humanitarian ground, Pakistan had allowed mother and wife of Indian convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet him. They visited Pakistan on December 25, 2017 and met him at the office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
In the past, Pakistan has repeatedly requested India for assistance in the investigation process, but, no such request had been accepted. Subsequently, India took the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which after the oral hearing ruled on May 18, 2017 to grant provisional measures, halting the execution of Commander Kulbushan pending a final judgment of the court.
Pakistan respects the sanctity of the international institutions and its obligations under the international law. It was in this spirit that Islamabad attended the proceeding of the ICJ at a short notice.
It is worth-mentioning that in 2012, as part of the exchange of prisoners, Pakistani government released Indian spy, Surjeet Singh who was handed over to the Indian authorities at the Wagah border crossing. He openly admitted that he was in Pakistan to spy when he was arrested in 1982. In this respect, Surjeet Singh stated: “I was a RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent. No one bothered about me after I got arrested.” Surjeet told reporters soon after stepping on Indian soil.
Quite opposite to the admission of Surjeet, on June 29, 2012, the then Indian Home Secretary RK Singh told a news conference in New Delhi, saying, “We do not accept this that Singh was Indian spy…it is completely wrong.” However, it shows Indian illogical approach as New Delhi denied facts in order to conceal the presence of other Indian spies in Pakistan.
While, Pakistan’s former President Asif Ali Zardari commuted death sentence of another Indian spy of RAW, Sarabjit Singh into life imprisonment on June 26, 2012. Surjeet Singh revealed, “Sarabjit Singh is a terrorist and terrorists are neither released.” On the other side, Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna who had welcomed Surjeet Singh’s release and stated on June 25, 2012, “It was now “time for Sarabjit Singh to be freed.” Like Indian home secretary, even external affairs minister was defending the Indian agents. It shows that Indian high officials are deliberately and officially supporting RAW agents to destabilize Pakistan.
Besides, Indian spy Surjeet Singh had also pointed out, “All Indian prisoners are treated well in Pakistani jails. Sarabjit Singh is also doing well there…I was treated well by prison officials and I am thankful to them.”
India has arrested hundreds of Pakistan’s citizens, often accusing them of being spies after they have strayed across the land or maritime border due to unconscious mistake. It also includes some tourists who went to India. Quite contrary to the well-treatment of Indian spies in Pakistani jails, RAW and other security agencies employ various techniques of torture on the so-called Pakistan’s suspected persons. Most of the Pakistani nationals have also been killed in Indian jails, while a majority of them have been killed by Indian security agencies in fake encounters.
Nonetheless, both Surjeet Singh and Sarabjit Singh were responsible for the string of blasts in Faisalabad, Lahore, and Multan in 1990 in which several innocent people were killed. They were also behind other terror-activities in Pakistan.
On June 28, 2012, BBC reported, “in recent years, several Indians returning from Pakistani jails have admitted to spying for Indian intelligence agency RAW” and “some have criticised India’s government for abandoning them.”
In fact, admission of the Indian spies indicates that RAW has a well-organised spy-network in Pakistan. Besides supporting separatist elements in the Balochistan, directly or indirectly, RAW agents conducted many terrorism-related attacks in Pakistan such as target killings, bomb blasts, suicide attacks and assaults on civil and military installations, including forced abductions and sectarian violence.
Undoubtedly, we can conclude that verdict of the ICJ about Kulbhushan Jadhav case is Pakistan’s victory over India.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
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