ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem said on Thursday that Pakistan was still waiting for an Indian response to its offer to appoint a legal representative in a review and reconsideration petition before the Islamabad High Court against the conviction by a military court of Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav.
“Pakistan is neither a banana republic nor a rogue state and wants to comply [with] all international laws as well as the July 17, 2019 verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” the minister said, adding that at the same time “we also expect similar response from other states to honour international laws, especially those governing human rights by shunning state terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir which is against all decency”.
Talking informally to a delegation of the Press Association of the Supreme Court, headed by its president Qayyum Siddiqui, the minister said the federal government had already approached the high court to allow it to appoint a lawyer for defending the Indian spy.
The ICJ had asked Pakistan to ensure effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav’s conviction and sentence after ruling that the spy should immediately be allowed consular access.
At the last hearing on Aug 3, the IHC had provided another opportunity to India as well as the spy to appoint a legal counsel to defend Jadhav.
Law Minister Naseem explained that though the ICJ judgement was not binding, still it had consequences which should be avoided. New Delhi could press contempt charges before the ICJ for violating its directives or exert influence to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council seeking sanctions against Islamabad, he said.
“That route we have blocked by asking both the spy and the Indian government to appoint a legal counsel or in the alternative allow the Pakistan government to appoint the lawyer on its own,” the minister said.
The invitation to the Indian government to move the review and reconsideration petition was extended through a May 20 ordinance, called the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance 2020, after Commander Jadhav declined twice to take advantage of the law demanding sympathetic consideration be given to his mercy petition pending with the army chief.
Commander Jadhav was captured in Balochistan in March 2016. He later confessed to his association with Indian spy agency RAW and his involvement in espionage and fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.
In 2017, the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) had awarded him death sentence which was confirmed by army chief on April 10, 2017. The military court of appeal has already rejected Jadhav’s appeal against the death penalty. Jadhav later filed a mercy petition with the army chief, which is still under consideration.
Jadhav was offered on June 17 this year to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction.
Law Minister Naseem said when all the political parties in the country took cue from the ideology set by their founders, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was the only political party in the country’s history that threw away its founder [Altaf Hussain], adding that Pakistan was a romance of the Urdu-speaking community who were loyal only to the state of Pakistan.
He said the MQM-Pakistan, and not MQM-London, represented the true sentiments of the Urdu-speaking community and was, therefore, registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan as a political party which complied with all laws of the country. He said the ideology of the MQM-Pakistan was very similar to that of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and that was why both parties were allies and had joined hands to serve the people of this country.
Referring to the government’s initiatives vis-à-vis the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the minister assured the media that no law, which militated against the Constitution or the Criminal Procedure Code, would ever be made, adding that it was a requirement of the FATF to declare attempts to launder money a cognizable offence.
He said he had already explained to the legislators belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that discouraging and checking crimes like money laundering, black money, keeping fake accounts and terror financing were FATF criteria and no one should have any objection to these since it would only benefit Pakistan in the long run. India had already made these offences cognizable, he added.
Referring to status of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr Naseem said there was no difference between the people living in Pakistan and those living in the region, but “we have to wait for resolution of the Kashmir dispute between Indian and Pakistan. Our case before the UN on the Kashmir dispute will be weakened if we follow what Indians have done by amending their constitution to declare occupied Kashmir a part of India”.
The minister parried questions when asked if the federal government intends to withdraw the review petition against the Nov 28, 2019 Supreme Court verdict regarding extension in tenure of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. He also did not answer when asked whether the ordinance relating to the setting up of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority has elapsed.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020