TWELVE DAYS before Pakistan’s military court sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for “espionage and subversive activities”, Islamabad quietly gave a declaration to the International Court of Justice at The Hague stating that matters related to Pakistan’s “national security” would not be part of the ICJ’s jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Maleeha Lodhi, submitted the declaration to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on March 29, which superseded Pakistan’s earlier declaration to the ICJ on September 12, 1960.
The Indian Express examined both declarations and found that the national security clause was one of the key additions in the new declaration. These declarations are essentially terms and conditions under which a country decides to accept ICJ’s jurisdiction.
Top government sources in New Delhi said this was, in all likelihood, a “pre-emptive” step to counter India’s attempt to approach the ICJ and seek justice. “This clearly shows that the Pakistan government had made up its mind on the death sentence, and was trying to plug holes in its system,” said a top source.
Pakistan government sources confirmed to The Indian Express on Friday that it was done in “anticipation” of India’s move to approach the ICJ.
Lodhi’s declaration, on behalf of the Pakistan government, on March 29 said: “I have the honour, by direction of the President of the lslamic Republic of Pakistan, to declare that (the) Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan recognises as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement in relation to any other state accepting the same obligation, the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under the Statute of the International Court of Justice… Provided that this declaration shall not apply to…” (the declaration lays out eight clauses) and “all matters related to the national security of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
This clause was not a part of the previous declaration. India’s declaration, which was made on September 15, 1974 by then External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh, does not preclude the national security option.
Among the eight other clauses that Pakistan has listed are disputes connected with “any aspect of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective self-defence or the discharge of any functions pursuant to any decision or recommendation of international bodies, the deployment of armed forces abroad, as well as action relating and ancillary thereto in which Pakistan is, has been or may in future be involved.”
India, too, has a similarly-worded clause in its declaration.
Pakistan has, in fact, used the national security clause to deny all consular access requests to the Indian government. India has so far made 16 such requests, and its case is primarily based on the violation of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations.
“We realised this declaration was made by Pakistan, which precluded the national security matters. That is one of the key reasons we decided to approach the ICJ on the basis of violation of VCCR, which is an internationally accepted law on consular relations,” said an Indian government source.
ICJ is scheduled to hear both countries on May 15 and take a decision on the case which has strained relations between the two countries in the last month-and-a-half.