Opposition party leaders in Pakistan have criticised Nawaz Sharif's government over International Court of Justice's interim verdict in Kulbhushan Jadhav case.
After the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday stayed the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav till a conclusion is reached, criticism has sparked against Pakistan's premiere Nawaz Sharif.
Opposition party leaders have criticised the government for failing to present Pakistan's case before the ICJ, thus leading to their loss.
Senior leader or Pakistan People Party (PPP) Sherry Rehman said, "Pakistan was ill-prepared to contest Kulbashan Jadhav case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Pakistan did not utiliSe any option under Article 31 of statute which allows a party to nominate an individual as a judge."
Criticising Barister Khawar Qureshi, the Pakistani representative who presented the case before the ICJ, Mr Rehman said, "The lawyer Pakistan chose to contest the case lacked international experience. He had never presented any case in an international court before."
PPP leader Khursheed Shah, who is also the leader of the opposition parties in the Pakistan Parliament slammed Nawaz Sharif government for mishandling Jadhav's case, "The way government handled Kulbashan Jadhav's case, shows its ineligibility. Pakistan should have sent its attorney general to fight the case as it is a matter of the country's national security."
The PPP leader went further and also raised doubts over the ruling government's intention and negotiating with India.
"Government concealed the visit and meeting of Nawaz Sharif with Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal. The Prime Minister should have fulfilled his responsibility. This raises doubts in our minds over the government's intentions," Shah said.
Moreover, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Shafqat Mahmood also lashed out at the government saying, "Hidden decisions and policies for vested interests have proven to be damaging. It seems that there was a deliberate intent and planning behind formulation of a weak strategy against India at ICJ."
Opposition parties are now demanding a reply from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They want him to call for a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting.
Pakistan was quick to respond to the ICJ verdict, re-enforcing its contention, which was negated by the court in its verdict.
Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that ICJ's decision cannot force them to alter its position on Kulbhushan's case. "It is an issue of Pakistan's national security and there will be no compromise on it," he said.
Asif maintained that the RAW agent was convicted after fulfilling all necessary legal procedures and any decision on this matter will be taken in view the national security. "ICJ has only granted formal stay on the death sentence of Jadhav," he said.
Pakistan's Foreign office spokesperson in a statement released on the behalf of Attorney General's office on the May 18 said, "In today's interim order, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has stated that by way of provisional measures, the status quo be maintained in the case of Commander Jadhav. The Court has clearly underscored that the provisional measures are without prejudice to the final determination of the merits and jurisdiction of the case. The provisional measures are a procedural process only to enable the Court to have full consideration at a later hearing. These measures have no bearing whatsoever on the final decision of the Court.
Pakistan attended the hearing out of its utmost respect for the Court and pursuant to the established jurisprudence that the challenge to jurisdiction can be made via appearance and not by abstaining from the process. In addition, Pakistan attended because of its conviction that the only way to resolve all outstanding issues is through peaceful means. We are confident that India would not be able to hide the subversive activities it is trying to carry out through its agents like Commander Jadhav.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, the Court's decision today has not changed the status of Commander Jadhav's case in any manner. In our submissions on 15 May, we had assured the Court unambiguously that Commander Jadhav would be provided every opportunity and remedy available under the law to defend his case. Commander Jadhav still has ample time to petition for clemency. To recall, we had in our presentation on 15 May, proposed to the court that a final hearing be held on the merits and maintainability of the case as early as possible. We are determined to pursue this case to its logical end."
Legal experts in Pakistan are of the view that ICJ's decision did not yield victory for both countries. Taimur Malik, an international lawyer said that the ICJ decision only related to India's request for provisional measures, which doesn't include a request for granting consular access to Jadhav.
"Pakistan hasn't failed to convince the ICJ that Jadhav is a spy/terrorist as this is something that will be considered only at the merits stage of the case.At this stage, ICJ wasn't even looking to confirm whether the rights sought to be protected by India exist (i.e. consular access to an Indian citizen convicted of activities subversive to the national security of Pakistan).
In fact, it only had to decide whether such rights are plausible enough to be adjudicated upon at the merits stage of the case."
In relation to the consular access to Jadhav was concerned, Malik said, "ICJ has not determined as yet whether consular access must be granted to someone in Jadhav's position. Pakistan has not even had the opportunity to plead the arguments in this respect and again this is something to be debated at the merits stage of the case."
Malik also that there was no decision on death penalty and that Pakistan can still argue over ICJ's jurisdiction.
"The decision in no way affects Pakistan's rights to submit arguments with regards to ICJ's jurisdiction, to deal with this case and in relation to the merits of the case itself," he said.
Sources within the government say that Pakistan will be formulating a much stronger legal team as it is taking this opportunity as a chance to expose India's breaches of other international treaties on human rights, hinting towards the Kashmir dispute, the Line of Control (LoC) and the Indus Water Treaty.
Pakistan is also planning to appoint an Ad Hoc Judge of the ICJ for this specific case.
1. Justice Retd. Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Former Chief Justice of Pakistan.
2. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, elected member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.
3. Judge Bruno Simma, Former Judge of the ICJ and arbitrator by Pakistan in the Indus Water Treaty Kishanganga Arbitration. Other than the above mentioned names, Pakistan is also exploring options of engaging a foreign lawyer to contend its case before the ICJ.
Pakistan believes it has substantial evidence to expose India's efforts of diverting the attention brutalities in India Administered Kashmir.
May 20 is the last day for Kulbhushan, to file a mercy plea against his conviction before the Pakistan court as 40 days, time to file clemency plea after conviction as per the international and domestic law, ends tomorrow.
With Pakistan's forceful response to ICJ's decision and emphasis of showing zero tolerance in the case; Kulbhushan's fate still stands on uneven ground.