|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Harish Salve, India's counsel for Kulbhushan Jadhav has said that India may have to back to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to get direction as Pakistan has failed to act on the court's directions to give consular access to him. It may be recalled Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was caught in Balochistan on March 3, 2016, but Pakistan's lie was exposed by Mehdi Honardoost, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan who dismissed Pakistan's charge that Jadhav was a spy, saying that the claims were "one hundred per cent false". Had Pakistan believed R&AW was operating out of Iran, they should have shared this information with Tehran. But more significant was the expose of the Pakistani lies by Gunter Mulack, former German Ambassador to Pakistan, who disclosed he had information that Jadhav had been kidnapped by the Taliban (on franchise by Pakistan) near Chaman, and sold to Pakistan's ISI. The alacrity, with which the Pakistani army chief confirmed death sentence for Jadhav in April 2017 post a ‘kangaroo’ trial by a 'military' court (military courts were later abolished) charging Jadhav with espionage and subversive activities, perhaps was linked with Pakistan alleging India's external intelligence agency R&AW had kidnapped Lieutenant Colonel Zahir, who retired from Pakistan army in 2014, from Lumbini in Nepal - a charge denied by India.
On May 9, 2018, the ICJ had unanimously stayed the execution of Jadhav when India approached the Court a day earlier; because Pakistan had violated India's right, provided under the Vienna Convention, to have consular access to Jadhav despite India making 16 such requests. Ronny Abraham, then President of ICJ had said, "Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision... and shall inform the court of all measures taken in implementation of the present order." Following subsequent deliberations and arguments from both sides, the ICJ observed on July 17, 2019, that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting consular access and directed Pakistan to undertake an "effective" review of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav. Now Harish Salve says he has had seven-eight exchanges with Pakistan who has made it an ego problem. During an online lecture series organised by the Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad which is affiliated to the RSS, Salve said, "We have been trying to persuade Pakistan to let him go. If they want to say they are releasing him on humanitarian grounds, they can do so. We want him back. It has become a big ego problem in Pakistan. We have written them several letters, they just keep denying. I think we have reached a point where we may have to decide on whether we want to go back to the ICJ for the consequential directions. Pakistan has just not moved ahead." It may be recalled that Pakistan had killed Indian national Sarabjit Singh (also accused of spying) in a Pakistani prison deflecting it on a fight within prison inmates. Harish Salve says India has been doing all that is possible to ensure Kulbhushan Jadhav does not meet the same fate as Sarabjit Singh. He said the spotlight is being kept on the case and the case is also mentioned in the ICJ's annual presentation of important cases to the United Nations (UN), adding, "We have kept the glare on this case in the hope that Pakistan, despite what it, will not act worse than it generally does."
What Providence has in store for Kulbhushan Jadhav no one knows but to expect anything ‘humanitarian’ from Pakistan would be expecting PM Imran Khan and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to covert to Hinduism. Despite the financial woes and fighting the China Virus, Pakistan’s attitude towards India has only worsened. Increased cross-border firings, infiltration, terror attacks, jam-packed terror launch pads and anti-India rhetoric all point towards this. Moreover, Pakistan is sitting in China’s lap who fully supports it and is also heading the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is overlooking Pakistan’s non-adherence to the FATF action plan. China has defied ICJ ruling in the past. The ICJ verdict of July 17 last year only ordered Pakistan to undertake an "effective" review of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and asked it to grant consular access to him without further delay. It did not specifically order Pakistan to release Jadhav, because of which Pakistan termed it a victory. Nevertheless, it would be good for India to approach the ICJ again as advised by Harish Salve. Who knows better sense may prevail on Pakistan one day.