Monday 29 May 2017 News Updated at 09:05 AM IST
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ICJ on Jadhav case: beginning of justice - Deccan Herald
ICJ on Jadhav case: beginning of justice
DH News Service,
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India's decision to take the Kulbhushan Jadhav case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has paid off, at least for now. In an interim order, the ICJ has directed Pakistan to stay Jadhav's execution until it gives its final verdict. This is an enormous relief. A former Indian naval officer, Jadhav was convicted and sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of spying and subversive activities. Not only did Pakistan ignore India's repeated requests for consular access to Jadhav but also it subjected him to a farcical trial to convict him. It seemed set to execute him, too, when India took the question of Jadhav's rights, enshrined in the Vienna Conventions, to the ICJ. The ICJ's preliminary order is a vindication of India's position as the court has ruled that Jadhav is entitled to courtesies under the Vienna Convention, including consular access. The first round in the India-Pakistan face-off at the ICJ on the Jadhav case has gone in India's favour.

However, it is too early to celebrate. For one, this is just a preliminary order; a final verdict is awaited. Also, Pakistan could ignore the ICJ verdict. Already, the verdict has set off a tug-of-war between Pakistan's civilian government, which is bound by international norms to respect the verdict, and its military authorities, who are keen to execute Jadhav, come what may. The possibility of the military executing Jadhav not only to settle scores with India but also to show the Nawaz Sharif government its place cannot be ruled out. Besides, even if the ICJ's final verdict saves Jadhav from the gallows, he could spend his lifetime in a Pakistani jail. Thus, India's quest for justice for Jadhav has only just begun. The ICJ order provides India with breathing time to activate its diplomatic back channels to secure Jadhav's release. However, such efforts will require improved bilateral relations to meet with success. Shrill calls for avenging the killing of Indian soldiers and other bombastic and bellicose rhetoric may impress the Narendra Modi government's hardline supporters at home but it will not ease Jadhav's release or secure his safety in Pakistani custody.

There are long-term implications for India's disputes with Pakistan too. Hitherto, India has avoided taking its disputes with Pakistan to a third party for settlement; the only exception being matters related to the Indus river waters. By taking the Jadhav case to the ICJ, India has signalled dilution of its opposition to a role for third parties in dispute settlement. Importantly, henceforth, Pakistan may approach the ICJ to secure consular access to Pakistani terrorists in Indian custody. Is India ready for that?