Much was said last year about Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case, which has had a considerable impact on Indo-Pak relations. The Indian media has been carrying sensationalist headlines, and emotions have been running high on both sides of the border regarding the matter.
The saga came under the spotlight again last week owing to the much-publicised meeting held between the Indian convict and his mother and wife. Pakistan termed the meeting a “humanitarian gesture” whereas the Indian media and officials cried foul as soon as the meeting was concluded.
The Indian media, with its nationalist propaganda, started to run sensationalist headlines that were intended to fuel the already-tense relations between India and Pakistan – with the likes of Arnab Goswami claiming that Pakistan’s humanitarian gesture was a “sham”.
I was invited to many of these talk shows to represent Pakistan’s view on the matter and what I found was appalling to say the least. The Indian media had already made up its mind about the way in which it wanted to portray Pakistan and was prepared to go to any extent to achieve that end – whether it involved adopting an uncivil tone or making sweeping statements about the country as a whole.
This calls for an analysis of Kulbushan Jadhav’s situation. In a nutshell, Jadhav is believed to be involved in espionage and acts that compromise our national security. Pakistan has released Jadhav’s confession videos that provide details on how he acquired a fake passport under a fake identity and was sent on a mission by RAW to spread unrest in the country.
In April 2017, a military court sentenced Jadhav to death, which caused an uproar among Indian officials and the media. India contested Pakistan’s findings and approached the ICJ, claiming that Pakistan was subject to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that required signatory states to allow consular access to the nationals of other signatory states while in their detention. Pakistan counter-argued that the obligations contained in the convention did not extend to detainees who were involved in espionage.
The ICJ ruled that the convention did prima facie apply to the situation and required that the death sentence be stayed until the ICJ had heard the substantive arguments from both countries and given its conclusions on the merits of the case. Pakistan has complied with the ICJ’s provisional measures, even though the former is not bound by the rulings of an international court within its own domestic sphere.
In addition, we must remember what happened when Pakistan wanted to bring the ICJ’s jurisdiction into play in its dispute with India in the case concerning the Atlantique incident of August 10, 1999. India decided to rely on a reservation submitted to the ICJ that denied the court jurisdiction over the country’s disputes with Pakistan. It appears ironic that India is now relying on the world court to resolve its differences with Pakistan in this matter.
So, does the Indian media have any justification for making its sensationalist allegations? It appears that it doesn’t. As a sovereign nation, Pakistan has taken measures to safeguard itself through its internal mechanisms. It has also agreed to submit its findings to the ICJ, which benefits Pakistan’s international standing as a participant in the peaceful settlement of disputes on the global stage.
While so many prisoners languishing in other countries have not been allowed to meet their family, Pakistan has permitted Jadhav’s relatives to meet him. It does not matter that the meeting was conducted under strict supervision and security checks. which is every country’s prerogative. What should matter are questions of diplomacy and the ICJ’s final verdict on the merits of the case. The unethical practices adopted by the Indian media need to be shunned since these practices tend to hinder dialogue between both countries.
The writer is an advocate of the high court.