Jadhav case may get dragged into Pak politics

Kulbhushan Jadhav. File photo.

New Delhi (NVI): The Kulbhushan Jadhav case is running the risk of turning into a political controversy in Pakistan as the Imran Khan government has been attacked by opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for issuing an Ordinance to give foreigners a right to review sentences awarded by military courts.

The Ordinance, which according to PPP was issued “secretly” in May, gives rights to foreigners, their authorised representatives or consular officials of the mission of their country to seek a review by the High Court of conviction and sentences awarded by a military court.

As per the ordinance, the sentences awarded by Pakistan High court can be reviewed in instances in which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled about their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 or they feel that they have been deprived of their rights under the convention.

The “ICJ Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020” was promulgated on May 20, the Dawn newspaper reported. However, it came to be publicly known on July 8 when Islamabad invited New Delhi to file a review and reconsideration petition following “refusal” by Jadhav to do so, the newspaper reported.

Jadhav, a former Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017. India has rejected the charges and maintained that he was abducted from Iran where he had gone in connection with his business and false case has been foisted on him.

Just weeks after the sentence, India had approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.

Under the Ordinance, the deadline for filing a review plea against Jadhav’s death sentence expires tomorrow.

The PPP has targeted the Imran Khan government, alleging that efforts are being made to “facilitate the escape” of Jadhav.

The Imran Khan government today said the ordinance was brought in to comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment and allowed review petition since Parliament was not in session.

According to The Dawn, PPP information secretary Dr Nafisa Shah, in a statement said: “We fear that like (former TTP spokesman) Ehsanullah Ehsan, Kulbhushan Jadhav will also be facilitated in fleeing the country.”

The Pakistan Opposition party has lambasted the Imran Khan government over “secret issuance” of the presidential ordinance and said the move had raised a number of questions over the government’s handling of the issue.

Dr Shah said if such an ordinance had been issued by the PPP president or the prime minister, he would have been declared a “state enemy”. “(Prime Minister) Imran Khan cannot impose his decisions on parliament acting like a king,” she was quoted as saying by the Pakistan Daily.

The PPP information secretary further went on to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “getting encouragement” due to the “cowardice” of his counterpart in Pakistan (Imran Khan).

Pakistan offered consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav for the third time on Friday, after the second access granted a day earlier remained inconclusive. This third consular access offer was announced by Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a television interview. A note verbale was also sent to India, saying Pakistan was willing to give “unhindered and uninterrupted” access to Jadhav.

The third consular access to Jadhav came after India said Thursday that Pakistan had not provided “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional”, access of the Indian consular officer to Jadhav, violating the commitment Islamabad had given to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial. He remains under custody of Pakistan’s military. He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said in a recent press briefing.