‘Not connected in any way’: India says Pakistan linking Kulbhushan Jadhav case with another
India on Thursday accused Pakistan’s security establishment of pressuring a Pakistani lawyer engaged by the Indian high commission to misrepresent New Delhi’s position on Kulbhushan Jadhav during a court hearing.
The lawyer, Shahnawaz Noon, was engaged to represent an Indian prisoner named Mohammad Ismail, who continues to be in jail despite completing his sentence. According to Pakistan’s media reports, Noon said during a hearing of Ismail’s case in the Islamabad high court on Tuesday that India’s chargé d’affaires is willing to appear in court to explain New Delhi’s position on Jadhav.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a news briefing that Noon had exceeded his brief due to pressure from Pakistan’s security establishment. Srivastava also accused Pakistan’s attorney general Khalid Jawed Khan of attempting to link Ismail’s case to that of Jadhav, though there is no connection between the two.
“Mr Noon is reported to have made those statements which are not true and are in contravention of our stand in the case. He appears to have acted under pressure from the Pakistani establishment to make such statements, for which he has no authorisation,” Srivastava said.
Noon was selected by the Indian high commission as part of a “routine consular practice” to appear in the case for the release and repatriation of Ismail. “However, during proceedings of the case regarding Mr Ismail, Pakistan’s attorney general raised the matter pertaining to Jadhav, though the two cases are not connected in any way,” he said.
“Mr Noon misrepresented the position of the high commission. He was clearly told by the high commission that he had no authority to represent either the government of India or Kulbhushan Jadhav,” Srivastava said, referring to the former Indian Navy officer on death row following his conviction for alleged involvement in spying.
The Indian mission in Islamabad has written to Noon, reiterating he has no authority to represent Jadhav and no basis to suggest the Indian chargé d’affaires will appear in court.
The Islamabad high court is hearing a separate case related to appointing a lawyer to represent Jadhav so that he can file an appeal in line with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict staying his execution and calling for a review of his conviction.
India has insisted that an Indian lawyer or a lawyer eligible to practice in the UK should represent Jadhav so that he can get a fair hearing, but Pakistan has said the formal naval officer can only be represented by a lawyer allowed to practice in the country.
Srivastava reiterated Pakistan has failed to respond to “core issues” related to Jadhav’s case, including the provision of all legal documents and unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access, which will be the “basis of an effective review and reconsideration” as ordered by the ICJ.
Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 in Balochistan on charges of espionage, and sentenced to death by a military court the following year. India has rubbished the charges levelled against Jadhav and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business. The ICJ stayed Jadhav’s execution in 2018.