Islamabad: Opposition parties on Friday lambasted the government over the interim order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) restraining Pakistan from executing Indian national Kulbhusan Jadhav sentenced to death on charges of spying and involvement in subversive activities.
Terming the verdict a setback for Pakistan, the opposition blamed the government for mishandling the case at the ICJ, while the latter rejected the claim and asked political rivals not to play politics on the issue of national security.
In Thursday’s interim order the ICJ stated that by way of provisional measures, the status quo be maintained in the case of Jadhav.
In a statement, the attorney-general of Pakistan said the ICJ “has clearly underscored that the provisional measures are without prejudice to the final determination of the merits and jurisdiction of the case.”
He said the provisional measures are a procedural process only to enable the court to have full consideration at a later hearing and these measures have no bearing whatsoever on the final decision of the court.
The attorney-general said Pakistan attended the hearing out of its utmost respect for the court and pursuant to the established jurisprudence that the challenge to jurisdiction can be made via appearance and not by abstaining from the process.
In addition, Pakistan attended because of its conviction that the only way to resolve all outstanding issues is through peaceful means, he said.
“We are confident that India would not be able to hide the subversive activities it is trying to carry out through its agents like Commander Jadhav. India has no substance in the case,” the attorney-general said.
Two opposition leaders also linked the weak defence put up by Pakistan at the ICJ on Thursday to the meeting Sharif had with Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal, said to be a friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Shafqat Mehmood asked Sharif to disclose details of his “secret meetings” with Jindal, the Dawn reported. He said the ICJ decision was an outcome of the Sharif-Jindal talks.
Mehmood attacked the government for selecting a lawyer at the ICJ “who had not a single international law case reported from the UK Supreme Court”.
Another PTI leader, Shirin Mazari, accused the Pakistan government of deliberately playing a game to advance Indian interests.
“They wanted the ICJ to give a stay. This was a game which started after Jindal’s visit to Pakistan,” she said.
Pakistan Peoples Party Vice-President Sherry Rehman said Islamabad failed to plead its case at The Hague and the Pakistani counsel ended his arguments in 50 minutes against the allocated time of 90 minutes.
Another opposition leader, Kamil Ali Agha, described the ICJ decision as the “biggest diplomatic defeat” for Pakistan.
Minister of State for Information Marriyam Aurangzeb, however, said the case was fought in the best possible manner and advised the opposition not to play politics over issues of national security.
Pakistan will get a new team of lawyers to put forward its case vigorously, media reports quoted a top official as saying.
Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz told the media that Pakistan’s counsel had courageously presented their stand in the ICJ, which stayed the execution of Jadhav — in a let-down for Islamabad.
According to Radio Pakistan, Aziz maintained that the ICJ did not order Pakistan to provide consular access to Jadhav, but has merely put forward an opinion. Aziz said a decision to provide consular access to Jadhav is yet to be made.
“Pakistan’s security is so important and we have to maintain our fundamental sovereign right,” he said.
Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Pakistan Today that the issue of Jadhav concerned the nation’s security and there would be no compromise on the matter.
The minister said Jadhav was convicted after fulfilling all necessary legal procedures and any decision on the matter will be taken keeping in view national security.
“ICJ has only granted formal stay on the death sentence of Jadhav,” he maintained.
— With inputs from agencies