Will Pakistan hang Jadhav before ICJ’s final verdict?

NAYANIMA BASU New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018


In the fine print of the verdict on Thursday, the UN’s judicial arm has explicitly stated that it saw a ‘risk’ that Jadhav’s execution may happen any time after August 2017

Pakistan may execute former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav before the final verdict of the International Court of Justice, which may take 3-4 years, even though it has told the ICJ that it will not take the extreme step before August.

In the fine print of the verdict on Thursday, the UN’s judicial arm has explicitly stated that it saw a “risk” that Jadhav’s execution may happen any time after August 2017.

According to official sources, the Centre is apprehensive that the Pakistan military court may take the extreme step after August, keeping in mind the lack of enforcement powers of the ICJ, and also that it will be at least 2020-end before the final verdict is given.

The government is now working towards a strategy on how to stop Pakistan after August and let it follow the proceedings till the final verdict is out, sources said.

“The Court further observes that Pakistan has indicated that any execution of Mr Jadhav would probably not take place before the month of August 2017. This means that there is a risk that an execution could take place at any moment thereafter, before the Court has given its final decision in the case,” the ICJ said in a statement.

It further stated that Pakistan has given “no assurance” that Jadhav, who was arrested on charges of terrorism and espionage, will not be executed before the final proceedings end at The Hague.

Interim relief

As a result, as an urgent interim relief, the court has directed Pakistan to not to take a hasty decision before the case has run its full course. It also asked Pakistani authourities to keep it updated of the measures taken.

“This is an issue between Pakistan’s civilian government and the military, “said Nandan Unnikrishnan, Vice-President, Observer Research Foundation, a foreign policy think-tank. “If the Army decides to execute Jadhav after August, then who is going to stop them? We probably will not even come to know of it until it’s done. China will support them. Moreover, this case has not even created ripples within the international community.”

The ICJ has also observed that the 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access between India and Pakistan does not change its conclusion on the jurisdiction.

“The ICJ does not have an enforcement mechanism,” said Baljit Kalha, Partner, International Law at Titus and Co. “The intent of provisional measure is to last the course of the final hearing… It will be around three years before the ICJ gives its verdict.”

Political tool

Sources also said Pakistan may not take the risk at this point because the country will be holding general elections in 2018.

Experts believe Pakistan may use the case to raise an anti-India rhetoric as the general election campaigns gain momentum.

“At this stage, it looks unlikely that they will not listen to the ICJ. But there is no mechanism either by the UN to stop any country from doing anything it wants,” said TCA Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioners to Pakistan.

Published on May 19, 2017

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