ICJ ruling validates military courts, says Maj-Gen Ghafoor

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Army described the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict in the self-confessed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case as an endorsement of the country’s military courts system and a defeat for New Delhi’s “false narrative”.

“India wanted the ICJ to strike down the military court’s verdict and order a retrial in a civilian court arguing that only reviewing the decision wouldn’t be enough. However, the ICJ has neither ordered Jadhav’s release, nor did it set aside the verdict,” military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor told a private TV channel.

“When you approach a forum like the ICJ where capital punishment is totally unacceptable, and if that court does not annul the military court’s decision, then this indicates a major victory for Pakistan,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general explained.

“Even ICJ seeking a review and reconsideration of the verdict shows the faith it places in Pakistan’s judicial system,” he added. “The military court’s verdict was bound to be reviewed and reconsidered before the president’s approval anyway.”

The ISPR DG maintained India had been declared a terrorist state with the ICJ decision.

“The world now knows the role India has been playing in Pakistan.”

He also pointed out that the Vienna Convention did not apply to a spy.

Commenting on India’s attempts to spin the verdict in its favour for face saving, Ghafoor said: “I think it’s another February 27 [India’s botched airstrike in Balakot] for New Delhi… it’s [the ICJ decision] another surprise for them.”

The military spokesperson lauded the efforts of Pakistan’s legal team and foreign affairs ministry.

He pointed out that Barrister Khawar Qureshi, who represented Pakistan at The Hague, was assigned the task by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa himself.

“Picking the right lawyer to represent Pakistan was the toughest phase,” he added.

“By the grace of Almighty, Pakistan has stood triumphant at The Hague. The Pakistani nation, its judicial system, the legal team that represented the country at the ICJ and the Foreign Office, the way they have handled the whole situation, they all deserve praise and appreciation.”

The ISPR DG also criticised the Indian media for acting irresponsibly and making claims even before the ICJ verdict came out.

“On the other hand, the Pakistani media showed a great deal of responsibility and reported the verdict only after it was announced,” he said.

‘Great triumph’

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi declared the ICJ ruling as a “great success and moral triumph” for Pakistan.

Speaking at a news conference at the Foreign Office, Qureshi said Pakistan’s legal team effectively presented its case before The Hague-based ICJ.

“India in its plea before the ICJ had maintained that Jadhav was innocent and that baseless allegations had been made levelled against him, but the court rejected this claim,” the minister told reporters.

“India was unable to achieve what it desired by going to the international court,” he added.

“The ICJ didn’t annul the military court’s verdict against Jadhav… this shows its confidence on Pakistan’s judicial system which is very fair and transparent.”

Qureshi pointed out Jadhav’s confessional statement in which he admitted that he was involved in espionage and terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

The minister said the ICJ had left it to Pakistan to review the sentence handed down to Jadhav through means of its own choosing.

The foreign minister noted that like any other country, Pakistan’s law was also clear about the trial of a foreign spy, who was a serving officer operating under a pseudonym.

“Pakistan is a responsible country and has adopted a sensible approach.”

Qureshi made it clear that Jadhav would remain in Pakistan and would be treated in accordance with the laws of the land.

The Foreign Office, in a separate statement, said the ICJ in its verdict had decided not to acquit Jadhav.

“Pakistan, as a responsible member of the International community, upheld its commitment from the very beginning of the case by appearing before the honourable court for the provisional measures hearing despite a very short notice,” the statement read.

“Having heard the judgement, Pakistan will now proceed as per law,” it added.

Officials confirmed that Pakistan would now grant India consular access to Jadhav.

Nevertheless, Pakistan reiterated that Jadhav entered Pakistan without a visa carrying an authentic Indian passport with a fake alias Hussain Mubarak Patel.

“Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav is responsible for acts of sabotage, espionage and multiple terrorist incidents in which scores of innocent Pakistani citizens were killed resulting into umpteen women being widowed and numerous children becoming orphans,” Foreign office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal noted.

“Jadhav has confessed to all these acts during his trial in Pakistani court in front of a judicial magistrate. This is a clear case of Indian state terrorism,” he added.