The US today urged India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue to reduce tension as they faced-off at the International Court of Justice over the the death penalty given to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav. “We believe India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI. When asked about the US’ stand on the case of Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who is facing the death penalty in Pakistan, the official said, “We encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tension.” Jadhav, arrested in March last year, has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and subversive activities. His sentencing has become the latest flashpoint in the India-Pakistan ties.
Pakistan has denied India consular access to Jadhav 16 times, claiming he was an agent of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). His execution was stayed last week by the ICJ, which today hear arguments presented by both the sides. India has petitioned the ICJ, urging it immediately suspend Jadhav’s death sentence, expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the hearing at ICJ. On May 8, India moved the ICJ against the death penalty, alleging Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by repeatedly denying it consular access to Jadhav.
India, in its appeal, has asserted that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran, where he was doing business after he retired from the Indian Navy. India has denied that he has any connection with the government.