India is confident that Pakistan will not defy the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, notwithstanding reports from Islamabad suggesting that the military establishment was pressuring the civilian leadership to ignore the ruling on the ground that the top UN Court had no jurisdiction over matters concerning national security.
According to official sources here, the ICJ’s verdict was legally binding on both India and Pakistan and Islamabad was liable to pay a ‘heavy price’, should it defy the ruling.
The sources did not rule out the possibility of India even approaching the UN Security Council to save an Indian national if there was a violation of the ICJ order by the Pakistani side. In this connection, they drew attention to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's statement on Thursday that India would leave no stone unturned to save Jadhav, who has been framed by the military establishment in Pakistan on concocted charges.
“It is for Pakistan now to act as a responsible nation and not do anything which will bring further disrepute to the country in the comity of nations… it has already earned the reputation of being a state sponsoring terrorism in its neighbourhood,” sources said. India, meanwhile, was awaiting a decision by Pakistan on the visa applications of Jadhav’s parents who wish to go to the neighbouring country and fight the legal battle on his behalf.
Swaraj is understood to have played a key role in nudging the Narendra Modi government to knock at the doors of the ICJ after Pakistan refused to pay heed to India’s requests for consular access to Jadhav or permit his parents to visit Pakistan. It is learnt that many in the foreign office were hesitant to take the ICJ route on the ground that it would amount to involving a third party in Indo-Pak disputes. New Delhi has always taken the stand that there was no room for mediation by a third party in the resolution of differences between the two countries.
However, Swaraj strongly argued that India should go to any extent to save the life of an innocent Indian. She is said to have closely monitored the developments at The Hague-based ICJ when lawyers from India and Pakistan appeared before the court on Monday and when it delivered the verdict Thursday. Soon after Jadhav earned a reprieve, PM Modi spoke to Swaraj and thanked her for working tirelessly to save an Indian from the gallows.
Meanwhile, the ICJ’s ruling directing Pakistan not to execute Jadhav pending a final decision by the court has triggered a blame-game in the neighbouring country with the Opposition accusing the Nawaz Sharif government of fielding an ill-prepared team of lawyers at the court, resulting in a loss of face for the country.
The confusion in Pakistan was palpable last evening itself when the government of Punjab, led by Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, stated that it would abide by the ICJ ruling while the foreign office asserted that Islamabad would not accept the UN Court’s jurisdiction in matters concerning the security of the nation.
Leader of the Pakistani legal team Khawar Qureshi has also come under sharp attack for not being able to even utilise the 90 minutes at his disposal for presenting the country’s case in all its dimensions at the ICJ. Pakistan is said to be considering forming a new team of lawyers to argue its case at the ICJ’s future hearings in the case.