Pak claimed that Jadhav was a spy for RAW. He was atrociously treated and was forced to make a confession.


Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan on 3 March 2016, apparently from Mashkel in Balochistan province. Pakistan claimed that Jadhav was a spy for RAW, India’s external intelligence agency. India was informed of his arrest on 25 March.

On 8 April, Pakistan army announced that Jadhav had been sentenced to death.

On 17 July 2019, the International Court of Justice announced its verdict. The court has 16 judges. The verdict was 15 to 1 in India’s favour. Its most important decision was that Jadhav’s death sentence should not be carried out. It also said that Pakistan had flouted the Vienna Convention.

The ICJ was established in 1919 after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. It is perhaps the only post-World War I international establishment to survive to this day. The League of Nations was also the outcome of a decision taken by the Versailles Treaty. After World War II the League was replaced by the United Nations.

The International Court of Justice is the UN’s principal judicial organ. Its job is to settle disputes between states in accordance with international law. According to Article 94 of the UN Charter, UN members are to comply with the decision of the ICJ. The judgements are final and without appeal.

The ICJ has no instrumentality to enforce its rulings. If a state does not comply with its decision or ruling, the UN Security Council intervenes. The Court also functions in a somewhat leisurely manner.

On Thursday, the Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar said in both Houses of Parliament that Pakistan should immediately release and repatriate former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. Pakistan was also asked to immediately grant consular access to Jadhav. Pakistan has been asked by the ICJ to do so.

Kulbhushan Jadhav is an exceptionally courageous man. He was atrociously treated in prison and was forced to make a confession of his guilt. This was uncivilised by any norms of the behaviour of any state.

What will Pakistan do? Its reaction to the ICJ ruling is ridiculous and shows bankruptcy of the functioning of its legal institutions. The fact is that ICJ has rapped Pakistan where it hurts.

Our hope that Kulbhushan Jadhav will be immediately freed is over optimistic. It will be a long wait. If, and it is a big if, Pakistan were to release Jadhav, the improvement in India-Pakistan relations would be dramatically positive.



Saturday, 20 July was the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong (he died in 2012, at the age of 82), Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin (both are alive, both in their late 80s) success in landing their craft Apollo II on the surface of the moon. Armstrong was the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon. His famous first words were “One step for man…” My wife, our 11-month-old son and I were holidaying in Chail, in Himachal. We were staying in Rajgarh, the palatial holiday home of the Patiala royals. We were glued to the radio (no TV in 1969). About 4 a.m. we heard the garbled voice of Neil Armstrong. Later we heard more clearly President Richard Nixon speaking with Armstrong, to congratulate him and his two colleagues on their unique achievement.

John F. Kennedy had launched the space programme to catch up with the USSR, which had successfully put the Sputnik into space in 1957. Russia’s Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), the cosmonaut made the first manned space flight in 1961, completing a single orbit of the earth in 108 minutes.

In the race to the moon, the US beat the USSR.

In the summer of 1970, Neil Armstrong came to New Delhi. He met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Parliament House. I too was present on this occasion. The PM warmly congratulated the American, adding how pleased she was to meet him. I distinctly remember saying to the astronaut, “Mr Armstrong, the Prime Minister kept awake the whole night to hear your voice from the moon.” Neil Armstrong’s response was brilliant: “Madam Prime Minister, I assure you that the next time I shall try to land on the moon at a less unearthly time.” Before taking leave of the Prime Minister, he gave her a piece of a moon rock.

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