After the International Court of Justice gave its verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, granting consular access to him and asking Pakistan to review the conviction of sentence of Jadhav, Pakistan has issued its first reaction to the judgement.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Pakistan government stressed on the fact that the ICJ did not order the acquittal or release of Jadhav, thus the court did not accept India’s application. They said that now Pakistan will proceed as per law.
Pakistan has reiterated that Kulbhushan Jadhav entered Pakistan without a valid visa on a fake identity. They claim that Jadhav “is responsible for acts of sabotage, espionage and multiple terrorist incidents”. They also claimed that Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed all these acts during his trial in a Pakistani court in front of a Judicial Magistrate. The statement by the ministry ended with saying “This is a clear case of Indian state terrorism.”
It may be noted that both India and Pakistan are claiming victory over the ICJ judgement. India is celebrating the fact that the court had ruled that Pakistan had violated the norms of Vienna Convention, and consular access to Jadhav and a review of the case has been ordered by the international court. India also won when ICJ rejected Pakistan’s claim that India’s plea was not admissible, and ICJ didn’t have jurisdiction on the case.
On the other hand, Pakistan has chosen to highlight the fact that the ICJ didn’t acquit Jadhav or didn’t ask him to be released. The death sentence of Jadhav was also not turned down, it has been only kept suspended till a Pakistani court reviews the case.
It may be noted that although ICJ has ordered the review and reconsideration of conviction and sentence of Jadhav, it has allowed Pakistan to chose how to do it. Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case was heard by a military court, but ICJ didn’t say that the retrial will have to be done in a civil court. This means, theoretically, Pakistan can still conduct the retrial in a military court, or any other court they choose, and that court can still arrive at the same judgement. It is also noteworthy that Jadhav will remain in a Pakistani jail, but he will not be executed until the review of his case is conducted. Although he will have consular access, and proper legal representation in the court.
Talking to media after the ICJ judgement, advocate Harish Salve expressed hope that the Pakistan will conduct a fair trial. Talking about what if the retrial arrives at same decision, he said that with court rullings one can always go back to the court with an appeal. He also added that if Pakistan conducts retrial in a military court with that same rules as earlier, it will violate the ICJ judgement as it will not be a fair retrial. They will have to change military court rules if they want the review to be done by a military court, he added.
Salve said that if Pakistan conducts a fair trial with proper legal assistance, we will secure Jadhav’s release, and if the trial is not fair, we can go back and knock at the doors of ICJ again. When asked if he will continue to fight the case in Pakistan’s courts, Harish Salve said that he does not think he has the right to argue in a Pakistani court, but said he is sure that there are fantastic lawyers in Pakistan who will take up this case.