ISLAMABAD: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to deliver its much-awaited verdict on self-confessed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav who was taken into custody by security forces and sentenced to death in 2017.
On February 22, after hearing the final arguments from both sides, the 11-judge bench of the Hague-based ICJ had reserved the judgment, according to Anadolu Agency.
Jadhav was a serving officer in the Indian Navy and was arrested in March 2016 in Mashakel town, a few miles from the Iranian border.
He was using the Muslim name Hussein Mubarak Patel.
Jadhav was running a spy network for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency from the Iranian port of Chabahar.
He was later tried by a military court that sentenced him to death in April 2017 on espionage and terrorism charges.
No date, however, was set for his execution, which would be by hanging.
According to the army, Jadhav confessed before the court to having been tasked to “plan, coordinate and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.”
New Delhi has rejected the charges declaring Jadhav a retired navy officer who was “kidnapped” from Iran, where he was doing his own business and his subsequent presence in Pakistan was never explained credibly.
India also threatened if the sentence against its citizen was carried out then it would be regarded as “a case of premeditated murder”.
New Delhi had moved to the ICJ, which stayed Jadhav’s execution in July 2018.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal had announced last week that Pakistan would accept the verdict.
A Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan is in Hague to hear the verdict.
Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based security analyst foresees a win-win situation for both countries in the wake of the ICJ judgment.
“I do not expect a one-sided judgment keeping the sensitivity and nature of the case. The ICJ may ask Pakistan for Jadhav’s retrial followed by due process of law, including the provision of consular access to him”, Sehgal said.
The security analyst does not see any improvement in already heightened tensions between the two countries — locked in a series of land and sea disputes — following the ICJ’s verdict, whether in favor or otherwise.
“Jadhav may be sent back home in future in line with the captured Indian pilot,” he said, referring to Indian air force pilot captured by Pakistan and later released as a goodwill gesture in February this year.
“He [Jadhav] may be sent back home as a goodwill gesture or in exchange for Pakistani prisoners,” he maintained.
March 3, 2016, Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan.
April 10, 2017: Military court sentenced him to death.
May 8, 2017: India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav.
July 13, 2018: ICJ stays Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution in Pakistan.
Feb 22, 2019: ICJ reserved its judgment in Jadhav case.
July 17, 2019: ICJ to deliver its verdict.