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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Kulbhushan Jadhav execution stayed: Pakistan’s opposition parties blast ‘sell-out’ Nawaz Sharif govt

Pakistani opposition leaders have criticised the government over the ICJ’s order staying the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, with some even accusing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of “selling out” to India.

india Updated: May 19, 2017 18:16 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
A man holds a photograph of Kulbhushan Jadhav after the International Court of Justice ordered Pakistan to stay the execution of the Indian national.
A man holds a photograph of Kulbhushan Jadhav after the International Court of Justice ordered Pakistan to stay the execution of the Indian national.(AFP Photo)

Pakistan’s opposition parties have blasted the Nawaz Sharif government over the ICJ’s order staying the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav amid a debate on whether the legal team representing the country at the UN’s highest court should be changed.

Some of Sharif’s detractors even accused the Prime Minister of “selling out” to the Indian side and opposition parties described the International Court of Justice’s decision on Thursday as a “setback for Pakistan”.

There was no official word on whether the government was considering a move to change the legal team at the ICJ, but some senior lawyers said authorities had started sending out feelers about such a possibility.

“Some law firms have been approached by the ministry of law to discuss such a possibility,” said an official of the law ministry in Islamabad.

There was also discussion about hiring a foreign law firm with a record of handling cases at The Hague-based ICJ.

“The consensus emerging in Pakistan is that while the country has a case, it was the legal team that let us down,” commented leading analyst Zahid Hussain.

Foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz told the media that the ICJ’s order would not have any bearing on the legal process currently underway in Pakistan against Jadhav.

“A stay is granted automatically even in our courts when you file an appeal. But it doesn’t mean that you have lost the case,” Aziz, the adviser on foreign policy to the premier, said on Thursday.

The ICJ is yet to adjudicate on the merits of Jadhav’s case, he said. “When that stage comes, Pakistan will forcefully present its case,” he added.

But the opposition accused the government of mishandling the case, with some leaders alleging the ICJ’s order was the result of a “covert deal”, and linking it to Sharif’s recent meeting in Murree with Indian steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal.

Shafqat Mehmood, a spokesman for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, demanded that Sharif disclose all details of his “covert meeting” with Jindal. In a statement, he raised critical questions on the matter and sought an explanation from the premier.

Mehmood asked Sharif to come to the National Assembly and explain why Pakistan did not appoint an ad hoc judge at the ICJ because it had a right to do so, and why the Foreign Office did not take legal advice before initiating correspondence on the issue.

There was also considerable debate on the performance of Khawar Qureshi, Pakistan’s lead lawyer, at the ICJ hearing on Monday. Qureshi, who is part of the London-based law firm Serle Court, became the youngest advocate to appear at the ICJ in 1993.

But opposition leaders questioned why the government had selected a lawyer who had not a single international law case reported from the UK Supreme Court and why authorities had sent a first year associate from the attorney general’s office to the ICJ instead of the attorney general himself.

The Pakistan People’s Party said the case in the ICJ had been mishandled and demanded that the government convene a meeting of the national security committee on the issue of Jadhav.

PPP vice president Sherry Rehman told reporters that Pakistan failed to plead its case and the counsel completed his arguments within 50 minutes, as against the allocated time of 90 minutes.

Rehman, a former minister, said Pakistan should have appointed an ad hoc judge under the ICJ’s rules as an Indian judge was part of the tribunal. She said the opportunity to do this was available till May 10 but was missed out. She added that Jadhav’s issue should have also been raised at the UN General Assembly.

First Published: May 19, 2017 16:29 IST

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