EDITORIAL: Still miles to go…

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - The order of the International Court of Justice staying the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the alleged Indian spy sentenced to death in Pakistan, skirts the issue of consular access by India to the prisoner.  

Swimming against a populist tide can create complications, yet we deem it both prudent and principled to recommend that a degree of circumspection temper the rapturous reaction to the interim order of the International Court of Justice “staying” the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav: the Indian national sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan.

The unanimous order of the 11-judge bench is specific about what Pakistan must not do, but does not direct that consular access be provided to Jadhav, and while it does prime facie deem itself to have jurisdiction in the matter, it has not as yet opined on the propriety of a court martial, nor deliberated the “merits” of the case.

Admittedly, by implication, it appears to have favoured the Indian view so professionally articulated by Mr Harish Salve, yet that respected  Senior Counsel has himself emphasised that only  a limited aspect of the issue has been examined, and that there is a lot of work ahead ~ provided the ultimate goal is to secure Jadhav’s release and return to India.

While the external affairs minister and ministry have reacted with restrained maturity, had the court been monitoring the Indian political and media response to its interim order it would hardly have been amused: perhaps even as embarrassed as Mr Salve at the superlatives flying around.

The point that the Senior Counsel has made is that India will be seeking Jadhav’s release, and if that was not forthcoming would be pressing for annulment of the court martial and reopening the legal proceedings in a format which afforded Jadhav due process ~ it was India’s contention that the process was skewed which the ICJ had found “plausible”.

Therefore for the very vocal but lesser lights of the political establishment to thump their chests as if Pakistan had been snubbed would be misleading, a cheap attempt at political encashment of the anti-Pak sentiments sweeping across the nation: sentiments in which the Jadhav affair is only one element.

How Pakistan furthers its case at the ICJ will require careful monitoring, more important will be whether the civil-military discord between Islamabad and GHQ Rawalpindi triggers any rash misadventure.

The Government of India, and its legal/diplomatic team, have their work cut out for them: they must strive as diligently as they have already done to consolidate the gains made at the ICJ. Those gains\have simultaneously dispelled the long-standing apprehension that any “internationalising” of bilateral complications would work to India’s disadvantage.

Yet since “one swallow does not a summer make” the need for continuing caution cannot be over-stressed. The initial success at the ICJ must not go to Indian heads: the overall problems with Pakistan, Jammu & Kashmir, terrorism, equitable sharing of river waters etc remain very much “alive”.

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  • EDITORIAL Still miles to go…

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