January 14: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday told the Pakistani government to ask the Indian government whether it wanted to plead or follow the case of Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav.

In December, India had accused Pakistan’s security establishment of pressuring a Pakistani lawyer engaged by the Indian high commission to misrepresent New Delhi’s position on Kulbhushan Jadhav during a court hearing.

Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 in Balochistan on charges of espionage, and sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court the following year. India has asserted he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed Jadhav’s execution in 2018.

India has maintained that Pakistan failed to respond to core issues related to the case, including unconditional consular access to Jadhav and the provision of legal documents which will be the basis of an effective review and reconsideration as ordered by the ICJ.

The Pakistan foreign Office had claimed that ”by casting aspersions” on the Indian High Commission’s own legal counsel, the Indian government was “looking for an escape from the legal proceedings in the case.”

A larger bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the Pakistani law ministry’s plea regarding provision of counsel to Jadhav for the implementation of the ICJ decision.

“Is the Indian government not serious in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav?” Justice Minallah inquired on Thursday, the Hindustan Times reported.

“The government should once again contact India and ask whether it wants to pursue the Kulbhushan case or not,” he added.

Further hearing of the case was adjourned till February 3.

Pakistan had earlier rejected as “incorrect” and “misleading” assertions by India regarding legal proceedings in the case of Jadhav.

“The government of India is reminded that in pursuance of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan had invited the Indian High Commission to meet with commander Jadhav and appoint a lawyer on his behalf so that proceedings to review and reconsider commander Jadhav’s conviction could commence,” the Pakistani foreign ministry had said in a statement.


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