The International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan must make an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and death sentence of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and grant him consular access, in a victory for India in the high-profile case. Ironically, the Pakistani media presented it as a victory for the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Major publications such as the 'Dawn', 'The Express Tribune', 'Geo TV' and 'Associated Press of Pakistan' reported that the ICJ ruling was dismissive of India’s plea seeking Jadhav's acquittal and release. While The Express Tribune featured articles which called it a “fitting” verdict and had a video of Jadhav’s confession, Geo News shared articles which carried Twitter reactions calling the judgment “a victory of Pakistan”. While Geo TV ran the headline "ICJ dismisses India’s plea for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s acquittal, release", 'Dawn' said "ICJ rejects India’s plea for Jadhav's return, grants consular access". A timeline of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case was published by the Associated Press of Pakistan, which called the former naval officer an “Indian spy”, emphasising on the rejection of India’s plea before the international court in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Dawn read, "Jadhav, a serving commander in the Indian Navy working for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan. June 2017, the Indian spy filed a mercy petition against his death penalty while India approached the ICJ against the conviction. The ICJ stayed his execution.”
News websites across the border also carried a hyperlink to Jadhav’s confessional statement transcript. “Pakistan had rejected all Indian allegations. It said the evidence obtained from Jadhav after his arrest and during the criminal process leading to his conviction was amply demonstrating his activities in fomenting terrorism and engaging in espionage within Pakistan,” reported 'Dawn'.
According to Geo TV, “The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday found that India’s submission pertaining to the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s could not be upheld.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday claimed that the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling on Kulbhushan Jadhav was a "victory for Pakistan" as the top UN court did not ask for him to be released. "Commander Jadhav shall remain in Pakistan. He shall be treated in accordance with the laws of Pakistan. This is a victory for Pakistan," Qureshi tweeted. The Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement said the fact that the ICJ did not ask Pakistan to release or acquit Jadhav meant that the UN court had "not accepted India's plea" for his release.
Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India. A 16-member bench led by President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf by 15-1 votes ordered an "effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav".
Recalling that it had directed Pakistan to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in the case, the bench said it considers that "a continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review" of the sentence of Jadhav. The bench, however, rejected most of the remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court's decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India. The bench ruled by 15 votes to 1 that Pakistan "deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation".
(Inputs from Agencies)