Attorney General dismisses claims of government’s malicious intent

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Following the ICJ verdict of 18th May, which ordered Pakistan to stay the execution of Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, the media and opposition parties have been engaged in speculation regarding the motives of the government with respect to the case at hand.

The dismal performance of the lawyers representing Pakistan in the case has drawn much criticism and suspicion. Opposition parties are claiming that the government intended for the proceedings to against Pakistan’s favor because Nawaz Sharif has a secret deal in place with the Indians. This conspiracy has ballooned in the past couple of days with people claiming that the exceptions filed by Maliha Lodhi, Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations, on March 29th granted ICJ jurisdiction in this case.

Read more: Pakistani Reactions to the ICJ verdict

Legal experts are of the opinion that Pakistan does not have to accept the jurisdiction of the world court however it must participate in the proceedings to prove its argument.

This accusation was addressed by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf who dismissed the claims of malicious intent behind the March 29th declaration.

He said that Pakistan had signed an unconditional declaration to agree to the jurisdiction of the world court way back in September 1960.

The AG explained that the original declaration was without any reservations and exceptions and through it, Pakistan had agreed to an ipso facto compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. “In plain words, we had made no exceptions or reservations in the earlier declaration.”

“The impression being created that we agreed to the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ in March with a sinister motive is not true. Rather, in March, we created firewalls, including the one relating to the security of Pakistan, for the first time.”
– Ashtar Ausaf 

But in any event, he said, the ICJ was not looking at that aspect of the matter rather they were looking at the Vienna Convention and the optional protocol to the convention to which both India and Pakistan were signatories.

“The optional protocol invests the ICJ with powers and jurisdiction to decide disputes between member states,” he said, adding that the international court was not looking at the aspects being referred to on social and electronic media.

Read more: ICJ verdict allows Pakistan to show the real Machiavellian India

“There is no design or sinister motive behind the conditional declaration signed in March this year. If we were to withdraw this declaration, we would have to go back to the 1960 declaration, which gives jurisdiction to the ICJ without exceptions.”
– Ashtar Ausaf

Currently, it is the opinion of legal experts that Pakistan has a strong case in the ICJ. Despite perceived faults in the initial handling of the case such as the failure to appoint an ad hoc judge which was Pakistan’s right and not asking for extension over the three days given by ICJ for the initial hearing. Legal experts are of the opinion that Pakistan does not have to accept the jurisdiction of the world court however it must participate in the proceedings to prove its argument. The case is likely to proceed for many months or even years and, for now, legal experts are advising patience.

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