ISLAMABAD: As opposition parties lashed out at the ‘poor handling’ of the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the government played down the directives issued by the United Nations’ judicial arm, insisting ‘all is not lost.’
Separate reactions from Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf suggested that the ICJ’s provisional order will not have any bearing on the trial and legal process that was currently underway in Pakistan against Jadhav.
“A stay is granted automatically even in our courts when you file an appeal. But it doesn’t mean that you have lost the case,” Aziz said on Thursday. He insisted that the ICJ had yet to adjudicate on the question of jurisdiction as well as merits of the case. “When that stage comes, Pakistan will forcefully present its case.”
In a separate statement Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf explained that in the interim order, the ICJ had stated that by way of provisional measures, the status quo be maintained in the case of Jadhav. “The court has clearly underscored that the provisional measures are without prejudice to the final determination of the merits and jurisdiction of the case,” he clarified.
Ausaf explained that the provisional measures were a procedural process to enable the court to have full consideration at a later hearing. “These measures have no bearing whatsoever on the final decision of the Court,” he argued.
While some in the country argued that Pakistan should not have gone to ICJ to defend its case by raising the issue of jurisdiction, the attorney general said Pakistan attended the hearing out of its utmost respect for ICJ and “pursuant to the established jurisprudence that the challenge to jurisdiction can be made via appearance and not by abstaining from the process.”
“In addition, Pakistan attended because of its conviction that the only way to resolve all outstanding issues is through peaceful means. We are confident that India will not be able to hide the subversive activities it is trying to carry out through its agents like Commander Jadhav,” Ausaf said, adding that India had no substance in the case.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, the court’s decision today has not changed the status of Commander Jadhav’s case in any manner,” he stressed.
“In our submissions on 15 May, we had assured the court unambiguously that Commander Jadhav would be provided every opportunity and remedy available under the law to defend his case,” the attorney general pointed out. He maintained that Jadhav still had ample time to petition for clemency.
Former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir believes that the case would provide an opportunity to Pakistan to expose India’s involvement in terrorism and subversive activities.
Opposition parties, however, do not agree and instead launched a broadside against the government for poor handling of the case, which they said, Pakistan could have easily won.
The strongest reaction came from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which linked the ICJ verdict with the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal. “Sharif govt deliberately played the Indian game by responding to ICJ when it should have refused to accept ICJ jurisdiction as it is entitled to do,” PTI leader Shireen Mazari said.
“It should have withdrawn from the optional protocol on consular access of the Vienna Convention and also from its acceptance of ICJ jurisdiction if other side accepts same (which India does),” she stressed. “This is a game that began with Jindal’s visit after which India filed before ICJ and Sharif govt found a way to stay Jadhav’s execution.”
“We were under no obligation to accept ICJ jurisdiction by going there to respond to India but we did. And then our lawyers were totally unprepared to respond to Indian points so court accepted all their arguments. By all accounts this is a deliberate policy to free Jadhav. A game plan set in motion by the Jindal visit,” she alleged.
The reaction from Pakistan Peoples Party was also swift. Senior party leader Sherry Rehman was of the view that the Pakistani legal team in The Hague failed to present the case forcefully. “Our lawyer finished the arguments in 50 minutes, though he had 90 minutes to present the case,” Rehman said, insisting that Pakistan could have done better had the legal team been well prepared.
Opposition parties’ criticism aside, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that India, after being exposed of carrying out state sponsored terrorism, terror financing, spying and subversive activities, had desperately tried to divert the world attention by presenting Jadhav’s case from the humanitarian angle.
“India is trying to defend a person whose actions have led to the killing of scores of innocent Pakistanis,” Zakaria said. He said the ICJ did not have jurisdiction on all matters related to national security of Pakistan under the Revised Declaration Pakistan submitted to the UN on March 29
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