Kulbhushan Jadhav Safe Till Final ICJ Order: Pak Envoy

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Islamabad: Even as Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit reiterated Sunday that Pakistan’s domestic laws will take precedence over International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) final judgement in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, he said Islamabad will abide by the court’s ruling last week staying the Indian national’s death sentence.

This is effectively the first assurance from Pakistan that Jadhav’s life is safe for the time being even as Islamabad approaches ICJ for a review of its ruling.

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Talking to TOI, Basit said Islamabad was committed to international laws and its multilateral obligations and that it would abide by the ruling which stayed the execution of Jadhav until it passed its final judgment.

“That is only in the context of provisional order that only stays execution and it has no bearing whatsoever on the merit of the case,” said Basit to TOI, adding that the court had not said anything conclusive about consular access and that all such issues would be decided in the final judgement.  Basit said that there was no doubt that Pakistan would round up the legal case against Jadhav as per its own domestic laws.

No country compromises on security issues. Remember he was convicted of subversion and terrorism. He is not an ordinary citizen but a serving naval officer,” said Basit. “As for the merits of the Commander Jadhav case, we are on terra firma and thus very confident of our position. Terrorism cannot be condoned under any circumstances,” he added.

While Basit said the ICJ ruling did not really matter much to Pakistan as Jadhav had 150 days to seek clemency in any case, his comment on abiding by the ruling should come as a relief to India which expressed fear that he might be executed even while the case was being heard at ICJ.

If the appellate court, in which India has appealed against the military court order, upholds the death sentence, Jadhav will still have 60 days to file mercy petition before the Pakistan army chief. If that too is rejected, he would have the option of seeking mercy from Pakistan president.

India won a major reprieve at the ICJ last week when its demand for provisional measures staying Jadhav’s execution was upheld by The Hague-based Court. India’s counsel Harish Salve successfully argued that Pakistan had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) by not granting India consular access and by not conducting a fair trial.

While Pakistan insisted that ICJ lacked jurisdiction in the matter, India said its case was built around the Optional Protocol to VCCR which accords primacy to ICJ ruling on any dispute arising out of interpretation or application of VCCR. The court went by this argument and stayed the death sentence.

It also upheld India’s right to consular access even though it did not directly order Islamabad to grant India access to Jadhav. Pakistan’s argument that the 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access took precedence over VCCR was also rejected by the court. As TOIhad said in a report on May 14, the agreement cannot be presented before any UN organ as it is yet to be registered with the UN Secretariat in keeping with Article 102 of the UN Charter.

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