India and Pakistan have once again locked horns over the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, is on death row in Pakistan after being charged with espionage and terrorism.
It all began after India accused Pakistan of attempting to build another case against Jadhav, saying the country was pressuring a lawyer engaged by India to misrepresent New Delhi’s position during a court hearing.
Earlier this week, the Islamabad High Court was reportedly hearing a writ petition filed by New Delhi regarding Indian nationals who have completed their sentence in Pakistani prisons. The prisoners concerned have still have not been repatriated, even after their nationality was ascertained.
The case was not related to Kulbhushan Jadhav, but it is learned that the lawyer, allegedly under pressure from the Pakistani security agencies, went out of his way to “misrepresent” India’s position in the case.
Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, according to the Indian government, started asking questions relating to Jadhav’s case, when the trial being held was related to another Indian national.
Did The Lawyer Twist Facts?
The lawyer representing the Indian side, Barrister Shah Nawaz Noon, replied that he didn’t have the mandate or the details pertaining to Kulbhushan Jadhav, and specified that the case in question was related to the release of prisoners who had served their term in Pakistan.
“Mr. Shahnawaz Noon was selected to represent our High Commission to appear in this case for the release and repatriation of an Indian prisoner, by the name of Mr. Muhammad Ismail, who has completed his sentence but continues to be in Jail in Pakistan.
However, during the proceedings of the case of Mr. Ismail, the Pakistan Attorney General raised the matter pertaining to Shri Jadhav though the two cases are not interconnected in any way.
And Mr. Noon is reported to have made those statements about our CDA, which are not true, and they are in contravention of our stand in this case,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.
Jadhav, 50, is on death row in Pakistan after he was accused of carrying out “espionage and sabotage activities” against the country at the behest of India’s intelligence agency, a charge India denies.
Pakistan says it arrested the former Indian Navy officer in March 2016 from Balochistan, while India maintains that he was kidnapped from Iran, where he was running a business in the port city of Chabahar after a “premature retirement” from the Navy.
“It appears that he acted under pressure from the Pakistani establishment to make such statements for which he has no authorization. Mr. Noon has, therefore, misrepresented the position of our High Commission. He was clearly told by the High Commission that he had no authority to represent either the government of India or Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav,” the Indian spokesperson added.
Reacting to the MEA’s remarks, Pakistan’s Foreign Office in Islamabad termed them as incorrect and misleading assertions in the Jadhav case, according to Indian news agency PTI.
It said that during the course of the proceedings, to show the discrepancy in India’s position, the Attorney-General for Pakistan cited the case of Ismail where the Indian High Commission had instructed Noon as its lawyer. The FO said that no attempt was made to link the Jadhav case with that of another Indian prisoner as they are and remain entirely distinct.
India also blamed Pakistan for failing to respond to the core issues pertaining to the case, including providing all relevant documents and giving unconditional consular access to Jadhav.
Jadhav’s execution has been stayed after India filed an appeal against the judgment at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 18, 2017. The Court rejected India’s appeal for his release and ordered Pakistan to suspend the execution. Pakistan had released a video of Jadhav in which he is reported to be “confessing” to being a spy. India, however, rejected the video saying it was doctored and fake.
On Tuesday, a larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had resumed hearing of the government’s plea seeking the appointment of a legal representative for Kulbhushan Jadhav for filing his review petition against his death sentence. The matter has been adjourned till January 14.
India has repeatedly maintained that Pakistan had not fully implemented the ICJ judgment, which has been the arbiter of the case between the two countries.