Opposition walks out of NA session over ordinance ‘facilitating’ Indian spy

Session deferred amid protest on either sides of the aisle


Rizwan Shehzad   July 23, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Opposition staged a walkout during a National Assembly session on Thursday protesting the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance 2020 promulgated by the federal government in May in view of the ICJ judgement pertaining to the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The government presented the ordinance before the lower house amid backlash from the other side of the aisle. The assembly session ended as Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out the lack of quorum while concluding his speech. The quorum was found incomplete and the session was deferred.

During his speech, Bilawal demanded that a new accountability institution be set up which can hold the government, the opposition, the judiciary and the military accountable. He maintained that his conscience would not permit him to support the ordinance.

After pointing out the lack of quorum, Bilawal walked out of the session at which the government aisle erupted with slogans calling him back to the lower house. Government lawmakers shouted 'Bilawal ko wapis bolayein, bachay ko bolayein [Call Bilawal back, call the child back]'.

Prior to this, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Muhammad Asif accused the government of being Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'friend' and claimed that the Centre was facilitating the Indian spy under international pressure.

He maintained that the ordinance was unacceptable to the Opposition and held that Kulbhushan is an enemy of the country. "Who is squandering Pakistan's honour now," he asked of the prime minister. "Who is prostrating before them today," he asked while asking why the Indian spy was being facilitated.

Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari began her speech amid a cacophony of slogans by the Opposition which shouted 'Modi ka jo yaar hai, gaddar hai gaddar hai [Those who are Modi's friend, they are traitors]'. She was left pleading to be heard as the Opposition walked out during her speech.

In July last year, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had asked Pakistan for an "effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav” so as to ensure that full weight was given to the effect of the violation of the rights set forth in Article 36, Paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention and guarantee that the violation and the possible prejudice caused by the violation were fully examined.

The international court had also maintained a stay on the execution of Jadhav till "effective review".

Jadhav, a serving commander in the Indian Navy, working for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan on charges of espionage, and condemned to death by a military court the following year.

In view of the ICJ judgment, the federal government had promulgated the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020 on May 20 for an effective review of the case.

The ordinance read that a foreign national -- either themselves or through their authorised representative or through a consular officer of mission of their country -- might file a petition before a high court for a review and reconsideration in terms of Section 3 of an order of conviction/sentence of a military court operating under the Army Act 1952.

It is also stated that the petition for review and reconsideration could be filed within 60 days of the promulgation of the ordinance. Since the ordinance was issued on May 20, the deadline expired on July 20.

The Opposition has accused the Centre of passing the Ordinance in 'secret' to facilitate the Indian spy, and the government has vehemently denied these claims.

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