The ICJ’s verdict, granting consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and directing Islamabad to review and reconsider his conviction and sentencing, is being perceived as a major diplomatic and legal success for India, which has consistently tried to isolate Pakistan on the global stage over the last few years.
In reality, Pakistan has to only grant consular access and can conduct “review and reconsideration” at its “choosing” — this, in effect, puts off Jadhav’s execution for the time being.
But the ICJ verdict needs to be seen in the context of a string of India’s diplomatic successes in the last few years — a culmination of the painstaking diplomatic and legal groundwork to isolate Pakistan.
The most recent was the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on May 1, after Beijing lifted its technical hold. China had consistently blocked India’s bid to get Azhar designated by the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions committee. While Azhar has been accused of several terrorist attacks — from the Parliament attack in 2001 to the Pulwama attack in February 2019 — China repeatedly blocked the listing efforts over the last decade, at Pakistan’s behest. It was only after India built international pressure, and made diplomatic maneuvres with the US doing the heavylifting and a series of quid pro quos, that it managed a win.
According to Indian officials, the pressure mounted against Pakistan on terrorism seems to have worked. On Wednesday, Pakistan arrested Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on charges of terror financing.
India’s attempt over the last two years to first “greylist” Pakistan, and then build pressure to “blacklist” Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force, also seems to have worked. This created pressure on Islamabad — including from Beijing, its all-weather ally — to take action against Saeed.
New Delhi also scored a major win after the Pulwama attack in February this year, when it got the UNSC to issue a statement condemning the attack. It was the first time that the UNSC condemned a terrorist attack on security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, and named the Pakistan-based terrorist group JeM. What was equally important was that China also signed the statement, despite it being an “iron brother” of Pakistan.
India also got diplomatic support from the US after the Pulwama attack, as Washington supported New Delhi’s right to defend itself. And after the Balakot airstrikes deep inside Pakistan, India got a chorus of support from the international community. The release of IAF fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was a case in point, where Delhi’s pressure seemed to have worked.
Much before Pulwama, India got global support after the surgical strikes following the Uri attack in 2016. The SAARC countries rallied around India to boycott the summit in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the MEA said on Wednesday: “We welcome the judgement…The Court, by a vote of 15-1, has upheld India’s claim that Pakistan is in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 on several counts.”
“We also appreciate the direction… that Pakistan should review and reconsider the conviction and sentence given… by the military court… We note that the Court has directed that Pakistan is under an obligation to inform Shri Jadhav without further delay of his rights and to provide Indian consular officers access to him… We expect Pakistan to implement the directive immediately,” it said.