Kulbhushan Jadhav
Kulbhushan JadhavYoutube screengrab

Pakistan on Wednesday fumed as questions were raised over the binding nature of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order that stayed the hanging of Kulbhushan Jadhav, even as experts said Islamabad would have to abide by the ICJ order or face the consequences. 

The ICJ issued the order on Tuesday, a day after India approached it with the case, claiming the actions of Pakistan were "egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations." The international court took only a day to rule on the order of the Pakistani military court to sentence Jadhav to death on charges of espionage. 

"The applicant (India) contends that it was not informed of Jadhav's detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights. It further alleges that, in violation of the Vienna Convention, the authorities of Pakistan are denying India its right of consular access to Jadhav, despite its repeated requests. The applicant also points out that it learned about the death sentence against Jadhav from a press release," observed the ICJ before staying the Pakistani court's order. 

'ICJ order is binding'

Noted jurist Harish Salve, who represented Jadhav at the ICJ, has said Pakistan has no option but to comply with the order of the international court, which India has approached after a gap of 46 years. Pakistan had won he previous time the two countries had wound up at the ICJ's doorstep in 1971, after India had rescinded Pakistan's overflight rights. 

This time, though, it seems that India has the upper hand as both India and Pakistan are signatories of the "Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes, 1963." This means the ICJ order staying Jadhav''s hanging is binding on Pakistan. 

Pakistan fumes

Pakistan is apparently not happy with the ICJ order, with Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz saying the order would be scrutinised before it was complied with. The country's defence minister, Khawaja M Asif, later took to Twitter to say: "The Indian letter to the ICJ is an attempt to divert attention from its state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Kulbhushan Jadhav has been convicted of offences against national security."

Khawaja Muhammad Asif
In picture: Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.Reuters file Photo

Interestingly, Times Now has quoted sources as saying that Pakistani authorities feel the ICJ has "crossed its limit" by ordering a stay of Jadhav's execution. Whether that is because Jadhav has already been killed — a possibility highlighted by the former home secretary and current BJP MP RK Singh — is yet to be determined. 

Islamabad drags its feet

Meanwhile, Islamabad seems to be dragging its feet on a number of issues pertaining to the case, like granting India consular access to Jadhav, or processing visas of members of his family to visit him. 

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay also said India still hasn't got a reply to its latest request for consular access to Jadhav, nor any update on his location or his health condition.