Pakistan should release Jadhav immediately: EAM Jaishankar

India's demand goes beyond the verdict of the International Court of Justice

kulbhushan_jadhav [File] Kulbhushan Jadhav

India has called upon Pakistan to release and repatriate Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav. Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar assured both houses of Parliament on Thursday that the government will “vigorously continue its efforts” to “ensure” Jadhav’s safety and wellbeing as well as his “early return to India”.

"We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith," the minister said. The demand goes beyond the verdict of the International Court of Justice.

Describing the judgment as a “vindication’’ for India and “all those who believe in the rule of law and the sanctity of the international law”, Jaishankar asserted that Jadhav was “innocent”. “No forced confession that too without legal representation and due process will change this fact,’’ he said.

The minister of external affairs also said that it was significant that the verdict of the court “unanimously found that it has jurisdiction on the matter’’. The court also “by a vote of 15:1 pronounced on other key aspects of the case,’’ he said. “The sole dissenting judge was from Pakistan,’’ stated Jaishankar.

While the ball is now in Pakistan’s court and the release of Jadhav may be a tall order at the moment, India does believe that the ICJ ruling will force Pakistan to allow consular access. “The judgment is final, binding and without appeal,’’ said ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar at the weekly media briefing in Delhi. “We fully expect them to implement…without delay.”

Pakistan, the court noted, was obliged to inform Jadhav of his rights and provide consular access. It was now “incumbent’’ on Pakistan to provide access immediately and there was no need for a “fresh’’ consular request.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has interpreted the ICJ's judgment in a completely different light. The denial of India's plea to free Jadhav is been seen as a win. Dismissing Pakistan’s interpretation of the judgment, Kumar said: “Frankly, it seems that they are reading from a different verdict…They should go through the seven press release…They have their own compulsions, why do they to lie to their own people.”

The court had also, Kumar said quoting the judgment, directed Pakistan to provide “effective’’ review of the sentence including the enactment of a law. Commenting on Hafiz Saeed’s arrest, just a few hours before the verdict, Kumar said Saeed was the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and a globally designated terrorist. Calling for “effective action’’, Kumar said that there was a pattern to the arrest and release. “This drama to my count has happened eight times,’’ he said.