Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the bill passed by Parliament last week aims at bringing Pakistani laws in line with orders from the International Court of Justice.
Pakistan’s foreign minister has blamed the country’s previous government for “mishandling” the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national convicted for spying by a Pakistani military court four years ago, as legislation related to the cases passes up to Pakistan’s Senate.
Speaking to the media in the Pakistani city of Multan on Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said a bill passed by the lower house of parliament last week was aimed at complying with orders from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to deprive India of an opportunity to have Pakistan “dragged back” to the court.
“The PML-N are the ones who mishandled the Kulbhushan Jadhav case,” he said, referring to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, a main opposition political party.
“The steps we have taken are in order to comply with the International Court of Justice’s orders and recommendations.”
Qureshi’s comments follow a noisy debate on the bill in Parliament on Thursday, with both treasury and opposition benches accusing each other of incompetence in the handling of the case.
Jadhav was arrested by Pakistani security forces in March 2016, and convicted a year later by a military court for espionage and facilitating attacks by armed groups on Pakistani soil.
At the time of his arrest, the military released a video of Jadhav appearing to confess to having operated a network of operatives to conduct attacks in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.
In July 2019, after a petition lodged by India, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to allow Jadhav full and unimpeded consular access to Indian officials but rejected an Indian plea for his conviction to be dismissed.
The court also ordered that Jadhav be given the right of review and reconsideration of his conviction before a civilian court.
The bill passed by Pakistan’s lower house of parliament on Thursday gives foreign nationals convicted by military courts in Pakistan the right to file an appeal before a high court, as well as to file petitions seeking consular access.
India’s government has not so far remarked on the passage of the bill, which will also have to be voted on by the upper house of parliament before it becomes law.
In August 2020, India’s foreign ministry said New Delhi had asked Pakistan to allow an Indian lawyer to represent Jadhav in his appeals.
In defence of the bill, on Sunday, Qureshi said: “India wants that [Jadhav] not be given consular access, and on that excuse, Pakistan be dragged back into the International Court of Justice,” he said.
“This is what India wants. I hope that our opposition members will not misunderstand things and will understand India’s plan.”
India’s foreign ministry has not commented on Qureshi’s accusation.