India will ask the UN’s top court on Monday to give consular access to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested in Baluchistan in 2016 on charges of espionage and sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) urgently ordered Pakistan in 2017 to stay the execution of Jadhav, pending hearings on the broader Indian case that take place this week in The Hague.
Jadhav was accused of working for Indian intelligence services in the province bordering Afghanistan, where Islamabad has long accused India of backing separatist rebels. After a closed trial, he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on April 10, 2017, on charges of “espionage, sabotage and terrorism”. India insists Jadhav was not a spy, and that he was kidnapped in Pakistan. New Delhi in court documents is asking that the ICJ order Islamabad to annul the sentence.
Ties strained, India to push its point
The hearings come at a time when ties between India and Pakistan have hit a low following the Pulwama terror attack. The Indian side is expected to push its point that Pakistan has been breaking international rules and human rights laws. While India will argue on Monday, Pakistan will make submissions on February 19. India will then reply on February 20 and Pakistan will make its closing submissions on February 21.
It has accused Islamabad of violating the Vienna Convention by failing to provide him with consular access, as well as breaking human rights laws. If Pakistan is unable to quash Jadhav’s death sentence, Islamabad should be found in violation of international law and treaties, and be told to “release the convicted Indian national forthwith”, India said. The ICJ’s decision will likely come months after this week’s hearings.