ICJ To Rule On Indian Ex-Naval Officer Facing Execution In Pakistan

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Pakistan not to execute an Indian naval officer convicted of espionage and terrorism.

The UN court in The Hague said on May 18 that Pakistan should not carry out the death penalty against Kulbhushan Jadhav, pending the outcome of a case filed by India over the matter.

Court President Ronny Abraham said the court decided unanimously to order Pakistan to "take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed."

India lodged a case against Pakistan last week, alleging that Islamabad violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying Jadhav's right to consular assistance following his arrest last year.

With the case expected to take months or years to resolve, New Delhi also appealed for the court to impose emergency measures to suspend Jadhav's execution until the legal battle has concluded.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, was set up in 1945 to rule on disputes between states in accordance with international law. Its rulings are binding.

"The ICJ order has come as a huge relief to the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav and people of India," the country’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, wrote on a Twitter post.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's ambassador to the Netherlands sought to play down the significance of the court's order, saying, "It's a very basic thing which the court has done, given its ruling on a provisional measure which is basically a procedural process and I think that is about it."

The ICJ "has said nothing on the merits or the maintainability of the case," Ambassador Moazzam Ahmad Khan added.

The case has further strained tense relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Pakistan says Jadhav,46, was arrested in March 2016 in the southwestern province of Balochistan, which has been hit by a separatist insurgency that Islamabad accuses India of backing.

New Delhi denies Jadhav was a spy and claims he was kidnapped from Iran.

In an emergency ICJ hearing on May 15, Indian representatives said Jadhav’s death sentence last month followed an "unjust" trial in a Pakistani military court and that Islamabad failed to respond to New Delhi’s demands for information about the case.

But Pakistan’s representatives told the tribunal that Jadhav "confessed to having been sent by India to wage terror on the innocent civilians and infrastructure of Pakistan."

With reporting by AP and Reuters