India, Pakistan Stir Up Past Beefs in Spat Over Suspected Spy

A United Nations flag flutters in the wind next to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) – Oral arguments in a dispute between Pakistan and India over the former’s treatment of a suspected spy wrapped at the International Criminal Court on Thursday, capping four days of both sides accusing the other of decades of abuse.

Facts in the case are disputed, but the United Nations court has been asked to decide whether Pakistan denied consular rights under the Vienna Convention to India national Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav (also spelled Yadav) after authorities there arrested him in 2016.

A Pakistani military court convicted Jadhav and sentenced him to death in April 2017 after finding him guilty of “espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.”

Harish Salve, the lawyer representing India, opened Wednesday’s proceedings – 90 minutes of rebuttal of the arguments Pakistan made Tuesday.

“Humpty Dumpty has no place in this court,” Salve told the court, a reference to a remark made by Pakistan on Tuesday claiming India “is sitting on a weak wall of lies just like Humpty Dumpty, and on one day will have a great fall.”

Throughout the rebuttals on Wednesday and Thursday, lawyers for both nations spent most of their time lobbing complaints about mistreatment by the other side, from terrorist attacks to harsh language.

Although Salve said Monday the case would focus on the issue of consular access, he used some of his time on Wednesday addressing several issues raised by Pakistan. He questioned why videos of Jadhav allegedly confessing were released by Pakistan months after they had been recorded. And he noted that despite Pakistan’s claim Jadhav had been paid around 90,000 rupees – about $1,200 – for his espionage work, India could not find this amount in Jadhav’s bank records.

Salve then moved on to issues he said were actually relevant to the case: Pakistan’s argument that India hadn’t proven Jadhav is an Indian citizen with consular rights. Salve said the argument was “surely is not a serious one” since Pakistan has also claimed Jadhav was a member of the Indian Navy, and Indian law requires its service members to be citizens.

Moreover, he rebutted the notion that Pakistan could delay notifying a consulate if they were holding a foreign national suspected of espionage He said Pakistan can’t make its own interpretation of the Vienna Convention by claiming a 2008 bilateral agreement between the countries allows them to deny consulate access in cases of espionage.

Salve also doubled down on his argument from Monday that Pakistan’s military courts are not up to international judicial standards and should not be used to try civilians. He ended his remarks by calling on the U.N. court “to use Article 36 as a potent weapon for human rights.”

At the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, International Court of Justice president Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf addressed Pakistan’s complaint about a missing ad hoc judge appointed to represent Pakistan on the bench. Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had been unable to attend the hearing because of an illness, but Yusuf noted Jillani has been participating in the trial and would receive the transcripts and be able to watch the hearings.

“The court has not received at least so far any evidence that Judge Jillani is unable or unwilling to continue to exercise his duties as a judge ad hoc in this case,” Yusuf said.

On Thursday, Pakistani counsel Khawar Qureshi returned, in his peruke, to the lectern for his country’s final word in the case. He reiterated his claim India had not answered the questions Pakistan raised and called India’s argument a “hollow response.”

Qureshi’s arguments traversed the litany of issues brought up by both sides in the case. He again accused India of doctoring reports, said India had inadequately addressed the issue of Jadhav’s passport and disagreed with India’s claim that Pakistani military courts are illegitimate.

At one point Qureshi referred to India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval as “India’s self-styled super spy” and suggested Doval could come to London and play James Bond.

Pakistan attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan had the final say, and used his time to claim India’s arguments lacked legal merit and should be disregarded. He defended the Pakistani judicial system and claimed Jadhav could have chosen his own counsel but instead opted for a public defender.

Khan wrapped up by bringing up a number of what he said were India’s abuses against Pakistan – including India’s treatment of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist who was executed by India for his role in a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, the use of pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir and sexual assaults by Indian soldiers.

Court president Yusuf said the court will rule “in due time.” A judgment is expected sometime this summer.

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