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Pakistan’s civil-military leaders review strategy for Kulbhushan Jadhav case

A meeting of top civilian and military leaders chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reviewed Pakistan’s strategy for the hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case at the ICJ this month.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2017 16:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Kulbhushan Jadhav,International Court of Justice,Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
File photo of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage. (PTI)

Pakistan’s options for defending its position at the next hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) were reviewed by the civil-military leadership during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Hague-based world court stayed the execution of Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged involvement in spying and subversive activities, in response to a petition from India. The next hearing of the case is on June 8.

The meeting of the National Security Committee, chaired on Wednesday by Sharif, discussed Pakistan’s options and preparation for the hearing. The meeting was attended by army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar, defence minister Khawaja Asif and foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz.

After the ICJ stayed Jadhav’s execution on May 18 till it gives a final decision on India’s petition to annul his death sentence, Pakistani leaders said the 46-year-old former naval officer cannot be freed or acquitted by the world court. They have also said his case will be handled according to Pakistan’s laws and Constitution.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the civil and military leadership discussed the strategy to deal with Jadhav’s case and to defend Pakistan’s stance, The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying. The question of giving India consular access to Jadhav was reviewed, the report said.

“Consular access to any foreign detainee is just a routine formality. But in case of Jadhav, who is an Indian spy, India needs to accept his status as a spy before requesting for consular access to him,” a source was quoted as saying.

“In the first place, our side has challenged the ICJ jurisdiction to hear the case. The world court is yet to decide about the merit of the case after which the issue of consular access would arise provided that the UN court proceeds to negate Pakistan’s stance.”

The meeting was held a day after attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali briefed the Parliamentary Committee on National Security about Pakistan’s plans to appoint an ad hoc judge at the ICJ. The ICJ’s provisions allow Pakistan to appoint such a judge as an Indian judge is a member of the panel hearing Jadhav’s case.

The meeting discussed names of former judges of the superior judiciary but no candidate was finalised, the report said.

Following widespread criticism of Pakistan’s lawyers at the May 18 hearing, Ali will himself lead the country’s legal team at the next hearing.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s House, issued after the meeting, did not mention the discussions on Pakistan’s strategy at the ICJ but criticised India over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting “expressed serious concern over the atrocities of Indian forces on the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir and resolved to continue moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris”, the statement said.

It added the National Security Committee also discussed the internal and external security situation and the situation on the borders with India and Afghanistan.

First Published: Jun 01, 2017 13:36 IST