Now that the euphoria over the judgement of the International Court of Justice suspending the death sentence handed out to Indian convict Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistan military court has died down it would be prudent to sit back and assess if the gains for India are real or largely illusory.
For one, the case, with a clear direction from the ICJ to review and reconsider the conviction and the death sentence, is still to be fought in Pakistan, whose record in protection of human rights is dubious, to say the least. Within Pakistan, it is the army that will do the review since the ICJ has not barred it from proceeding with it.
The only seeming concession that the Pakistanis have made is to announce that they are working out the modalities for consular access but they have made it clear that such access will be granted as per Pakistani laws, whatever that may entail.
With the ICJ having desisted from passing strictures against Pakistan for having denied consular access all through the trial, it remains to be seen if there would be any meaningful gain from the type of consular access that the Indian government gets.
It is indeed too early to say that Indian lawyers would be allowed to defend Jadhav against the web of lies that the Pakistani prosecution is expected to entangle the convict in.
While Pakistan ‘reviews and reconsiders’ the Jadhav case, there is no stipulation from ICJ that the judicial system in Pakistan would notcome up with the same conclusions of Jadhav’s guilt and that it would not reaffirm the death sentence.
That Pakistan’s case against Jadhav – of him being engaged in espionage -- was built essentially on a forced confession has been pointed out by this country ad nauseam.
Only an independent judicial process could have exposed the sinister designs of the Pakistan military court and also established the veracity or otherwise of the theory that there are visible torture marks on Jadhav’s body which were inflicted by Pakistani authorities.
It has been indicated that if Pakistan repudiates the ICJ judgement India has a right to go to the UN Security Council for corrective action. India indeed cannot wait for Pakistan’s farcical and long-drawn trial to end.
It must prepare its case for a hearing in the UNSC in the right earnest. It is no secret that when it concerns military jurisdiction the Pakistani civilian government is a mere puppet. That has been amply borne out by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement too.
By S Sadanand