Pakistan faced a major embarrassment at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today in the Kusbhushan Jadhav death sentence case. The ICJ rejected Pakistan’s claims in the case and stayed the death sentence to Jadhav, pending the final decision of the world court.
The former Indian Navy official-turned-businessman, Kulbhushan Jadhav, was awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court on April 10 this year. On May 8, India had approached the ICJ for immediate suspension of death sentence awarded to Jadhav, who was kidnapped from Iran and later arrested by Pakistan on March 3, 2016 on alleged charges of “espionage and subversive activities”.
In its order, the ICJ said, “Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings and shall inform the Court of all the measures taken in implementation of the present Order. The Court also decides that, until it has given its final decision, it shall remain seized of the matters which form the subject-matter of this Order.”
While the ICJ order came as a huge relief to India and the family of Jadhav, this is not yet the time for celebrations. First, Jadhav is still in some undisclosed Pakistani jail and no one knows about his health conditions. Pakistan has maintained complete secrecy about Jadhav’s whereabouts and also denied India consular access to him on 16 occasions.
Second, soon after the ICJ order, Pakistan foreign office said that Islamabad does not accept the jurisdiction of ICJ in matters related to the country’s national security. The foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria also attacked India, saying New Delhi has been “trying to hide its real face” by taking the case of Jadhav to ICJ.
This immediate official statement from Pakistan comes even after the ICJ declared that it had jurisdiction in the case. In its order, ICJ said, “In the view of the Court, this is sufficient to establish that it has prima facie jurisdiction under Article I of the Optional Protocol. The Court further observes that the existence of a 2008 bilateral Agreement between the Parties on consular relations does not change its conclusion on jurisdiction.”
As per the international law, the decision of ICJ would be binding on Pakistan. In the case of failing to do so, Islamabad may invite international sanctions. However, Pakistan’s official statement soon after the ICJ order, shows that Islamabad may be plotting something more sinister in the case and it may not mind taking the international rebuke. For India, it may need something more to bring Jadhav safely home. One doesn’t know when it would happen. Hence, the celebrations can wait.