Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav (2)

In February, we reported that the International Court of Justice at the Hague (ICJ) was holding a hearing into this case. The court finally announced its decision on 17 July.

Jadhav is a retired (or so he claimed) Indian naval officer who was arrested in Pakistan in 2016. Pakistan claimed that he was an Indian spy living under cover in Iran from where he was co-ordinating espionage activities. In April 2017, a Pakistani military court sentenced Jadhav to death. India immediately protested to the ICJ.

The result of the appeal appears to be a bit of a score draw: India is claiming victory because the Court has ruled that Pakistan has broken international law by not allowing Jadhav consular access before or during his trial. Pakistan has said that it will suspend the sentence and grant that access. The ICJ has also urged (it cannot demand) that Pakistan should review the death sentence.

Meanwhile Pakistan is claiming victory because the ICJ did not overturn the verdict of the military court. Once Jadhav has been granted consular access, they could proceed with the original verdict.

No one is quite sure what will happen next. Pakistan is furious because they claim that Jadhav was fomenting unrest in Balochistan, a notoriously unruly province. That unrest has claimed many Pakistani lives and Pakistan wants someone to pay the price. India is protesting a) that Jadhav is innocent and b) that he was either tricked or kidnapped from Iran simply in order to execute him. All this is against the background of a period highly strained relations between the two countries.

Jadhav certainly has all the signs of being an Indian deep cover operative. In the end his life may hang on what the Indian government can offer in return for clemency.

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