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India steps up pressure on Pakistan to secure Jadhav’s release

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) communication to Islamabad to stay the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav coming as a shot in its arm, India on Wednesday stepped up pressure on Pakistan for securing the safe release of the former Indian Navy officer, who has been awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court on concocted charges.

At a media briefing here, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay strongly justified India’s decision to approach the Hague-based ICJ on 8 May despite the fact that New Delhi has in the past questioned its authority to decide on disputes between two nations.

Approaching the ICJ was a ‘‘very carefully considered decision taken with the intent of ensuring justice for a son of India who is in illegal detention and faces threat to his life’’, he said.

Spokesperson indicated that New Delhi was forced to take the step since Islamabad was not ready even to implement the basic requirements under the Geneva Convention on Consular Matters.

He explained that New Delhi had made as many as 16 requests to Islamabad for consular access to Jadhav without any response. It had also sought documents and charge-sheet pertaining to Jadhav’s case but in vain. India was not aware of the fate of the appeal made by Jadhav’s mother against the military court’s order.

The Pakistan authorities had also not so far given visas to Jadhav’s parents to visit Pakistan to fight the legal battle on his behalf.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had also written to Pakistan Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz on 27 April in connection with visa for Jadhav’s parents, the spokesperson added.

ICJ had on Tuesday admitted India’s plea against the death sentence awarded to 46-year-old Jadhav and told Islamabad to put the execution on hold till the case was decided. ruling was binding on Pakistan, according to senior lawyer Harish Salve, who represents India at the ICJ.

The court is likely to take up the case next in the middle of May. New Delhi hoped Pakistan would take steps to ensure that the military court’s order was not implemented until the ICJ had given its final verdict.

This is the first time in 45 years that India has gone to the ICJ established by the UN charter. The last was in 1971 when India had questioned the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s power to decide Pakistan’s complaint about New Delhi denying its airlines from flying over India.

Pakistan took India to the ICJ in 1999 after its military plane was shot down in Indian air space over the Rann of Kutch. India contested the case on the issue of jurisdiction and the ICJ upheld New Delhi’s position.

Pakistan, which was virtually caught unawares by India’s decision to approach the ICJ, said it would analyse the court’s communication and issue a statement in a few days.

‘’We are analysing the Indian petition and the ICJ’s authority in this case,’’ Pakistan PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said. Earlier, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja M Asif described India’s petition to the court as an attempt to divert attention from state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. ‘’Kulbhushan convicted of offences under national security,’’ he tweeted.