Reflecting the chill in Indo-Pak ties, a curt ‘namaskar’ was all that a senior Indian diplomat had to offer to an extended hand of a member of the Pakistani delegation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), hearing the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Ahead of the hearing today, Deepak Mittal, who is the head of the Pakistan division in the external affairs ministry and is representing India in the retired Navy officer’s case at the ICJ, ignored the handshake gesture by Syed Faraz Hussain Zaidi, Councellor of the Pakistan Embassy in the Netherlands as Adviser, and offered a ‘namaskar’ instead.
Interestingly, Mittal shook hands with some of the Pakistan delegation members, including the Pakistani attorney general, the main lawyer in the case from the Pakistan government. Last week also, frosty Indo-Pak relations were on full display when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was on the dais with his Pakistani counterpart at an event in Japan.
There is increasing strain in Indo-Pak ties in the aftermath of the Jadhav episode and the beheading of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan Army.On May 8, India moved the ICJ against the death penalty handed down to Jadhav by a Pakistan military court, alleging violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. On May 9, the highest court in the UN gave Jadhav a lease of life.
India, in its appeal to the ICJ, had asserted that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he was involved in business activities after retiring from the Indian Navy. India has denied that he has any connection with the government.