The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday stayed Pakistan’s execution sentence for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav pending its final verdict, but Islamabad has already lost the case back home. Several individuals of putative legal authority came on TV following the ruling to say Pakistan shouldn’t have gone to The Hague at all. Some said the lawyer engaged to present Pakistan’s case was a buffoon who should have spoken for the full allotted 90 minutes instead of the 50 he utilized, losing the case for Pakistan. This was a sudden about-turn because he was generally praised when the court proceedings were watched on TV. Self-flagellation went on throughout the night on social media as well as broadcast outlets.
Most angry observers thought the Court had no jurisdiction and Pakistan shouldn’t have answered its summons. The Foreign Office, in vain, announced that Pakistan had submitted its fresh statement under the Optional Clause of the ICJ, clearly ousting its jurisdiction and that Thursday’s stay-order was no verdict. But the talkshows were unforgiving. Lawyers who appeared, perhaps wanting to promote their own business, were especially eager to rubbish the government-appointed lawyer’s actions. On the other hand, one commentator who had been a judge of the ICJ said no harm was done as Pakistan’s stance would still be vindicated. There was aggressive “nationalist” defiance in evidence too, advising a thumbing of the nose at the ICJ just as America once did in the past.
The Nawaz Sharif government was hauled over the coals further “for not hiring a good lawyer” even after Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa revealed that the hiring had been done by the Army. It was also cursed for not appointing an ad hoc judge Pakistan was entitled to while India had an ad hoc judge on the ICJ panel. One lawyer belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party, whose past as a federal minister was no shining example, took the battle further: Nawaz Sharif had met “his friend” Sajjan Jindal from India to hatch the ICJ conspiracy, implying that Modi had told Sharif that he was going to drag Pakistan to the ICJ and would he please lose the case as a favor to India? It didn’t wash that the ICJ could only hand down an “advisory” judgment not binding on the recipient state and that in some cases it could only be seen as carrying “moral” weight.