The International Court of Justice, the top United Nations Court, on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan had violated international law by denying consular access to Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The ICJ also ordered that Pakistan review the death penalty it handed down to Jadhav for spying.
Jadhav was arrested in a restive Pakistan province in 2016 that is home to a simmering insurgency which Pakistan blames on India. India says that Jadhav was kidnapped by Pakistan agents while he was in Iran.
In 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a military tribunal. The ICJ ruled that Pakistan in this instance failed to inform the navy officer of his right and was breaking international law when it failed to allow consular access to the imprisoned man.
Despite the verdict, both India and Pakistan have claimed victory in the ICJ ruling.
The Pakistan view
Pakistanis celebrated the verdict arguing that the ruling granting consular access to Jadhav was a minor slap on the wrist while celebrating the validity and recognition of jurisdiction by the Pakistani military court.
Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed it a victory for Pakistan and said it cleared up any confusion regarding the convicted spy’s custody saying that he shall “remain in Pakistan” and be “treated in accordance with the laws” of the country, according to Dawn Newspaper.
“This is a victory for Pakistan,” he said.
The Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also said that the verdict was a “great outcome.”
“Apparently news reports from Hague suggests that not only Indian case for acquittal, release, return stands rejected but apparently [International] Court also upheld Jurisdiction of [Military] Court in #Kalbhushan case. Indeed a great outcome. Congratulations to Pakistan legal team for putting up [a] great fight,” he tweeted.
The Indian view
India also celebrated the verdict pointing to the consular access as a major point of victory and also noting that Pakistan had broken international law. That the ICJ also ordered Pakistan to review the death penalty imposed was a success, according to the Indian papers.
“India’s big win over Pakistan, ICJ suspends Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution” reads the headlining article in The Statesman website.
“In a major diplomatic, legal, and emotional victory for India, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on Wednesday ruled that counsellor access be provided to Kulbhushan Jadhav,” the Statesman continued.
The paper later called Jadhav’s 2017 trial “farcical.”
It should be noted that even though the ICJ ordered a review of the execution and that its rulings are binding, it does not have any means of enforcement and that Jadhav remains in Pakistani custody.