Hours after New Delhi asked Islamabad to “immediately” grant consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer whose death sentence by a Pakistan military court was suspended by the International Court of Justice a day earlier, Pakistan Thursday night announced it “will grant consular access… according to Pakistani laws, for which modalities are being worked out”.
In a press release from Islamabad, the Pakistan government’s official spokesperson also said: “Pursuant to the decision of the ICJ, Commander Kulbushan Jadhav has been informed of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”
Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who as Foreign Secretary had played a key role in taking the matter to the ICJ, made a statement in both Houses of Parliament where he also asked Pakistan to “release and repatriate Jadhav forthwith”.
The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, said the ICJ has said that steps have to be taken “immediately”. “Pakistan is obliged to take steps immediately. It’s time for them to act,” he said. Asked whether India will make a fresh request for consular access to Jadhav, he said nothing new will be done now as previous requests for consular access are pending with that country.
Rejecting Pakistan’s claim of a victory in the case, Kumar said Islamabad has its “own compulsions to lie” to its people.
In Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country will proceed further “as per law” in the Jadhav case. In a tweet, Khan said: “Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release and return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law.” Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor too said “Pakistan will follow the law”.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted, “Jadhav shall remain in Pakistan. He shall be treated in accordance with the laws of Pakistan”.
After more than two years of battle at the global court, New Delhi won a legal and diplomatic victory over Islamabad Wednesday after the ICJ ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence. Jadhav was sentenced by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism”.
The ICJ affirmed Jadhav’s right to consular access and slammed Pakistan for denying this. And made it clear that the death sentence should remain suspended until Pakistan effectively reviews and reconsiders the conviction and sentence in the light of its breach of Article 36 of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations — that is denial of consular access and notification.
In New Delhi, while making a statement in both houses of Parliament on the ICJ verdict, Jaishankar said, “Government has made untiring efforts in seeking his release, including through legal means in the International Court of Justice,” he said.
“Pakistan was found to have deprived India of the right to communicate with Jadhav, have access to him, visit him in detention and arrange his legal representation. Kulbhushan Jadhav is innocent of the charges made against him. His forced confession without legal representation and due process will not change this reality,” he said.
“We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith… The Government will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure his safety and wellbeing, as well as his early return to India,” Jaishankar said as members, cutting across party lines, welcomed the ICJ verdict by thumping benches.