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Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pakistan substitutes legal speak with jibes on Day 1 of its oral arguments at ICJ

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Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pakistan substitutes legal speak with jibes on Day 1 of its oral arguments at ICJ

ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf asked Anwar Mansoor Khan if his team was prepared with the arguments. Upon hearing the AG's response in the affirmative, he decided to move on with the proceedings.

Day two of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) proceeded after Pakistan requested for adjournment as its ad hoc judge, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, fell ill. He will now remain indisposed for the entire hearing till Thursday (February 21).

Pakistan's Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, who is leading the Pakistani delegation, told the ICJ, "We applied the right provided to us that we can appoint an ad hoc judge. But since our judge is indispensable at this point, we would like to place before the court that another judge be sworn-in -- a right which has been provided under article 35-5 -- and the judge be given ample amount of time to go through the briefings before going ahead with the arguments."

ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf asked Anwar Mansoor Khan if his team was prepared with the arguments. Upon hearing the AG's response in the affirmative, he decided to move on with the proceedings.

Pakistan's lawyer Khawar Qureshi, in his oral arguments, focussed on a few things. One, the issue of terrorism and India's role in abetting terrorism in Pakistan; second, the issue of authenticity of Kulbhushan Jadhav's passport; third, the issue of the 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access; and finally, the fact that Kulbhushan Jadhav's family has room for legal recourse in Pakistan so, approaching the ICJ was just "grandstanding" by India.

More than focussing on the merits of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, day one of Pakistan's oral arguments was based mostly on political attacks and jibes at the Narendra Modi-led administration.

In his theatrical way, Khawar Qureshi accused India of sitting on a "flimsy wall of lies".

Making a reference to the nursery rhyme 'Humpty Dumpty', Qureshi said in court, "I am reminded of a character occupying a fantasy land, Humpty Dumpty, who insisted that words meant what he wanted them to mean, but we know that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a flimsy wall, he fell, and India is sitting on a flimsy wall of lies."

The Pakistani side came prepared with an electronic presentation where documents were put up to explain Pakistan's case as opposed to India's low-key, "stick to facts" arguments on Monday.

Pakistan maintains that Kulbhushan Jadhav was a serving officer and hence, Khawar Qureshi referred to him as Commander Jadhav all through his presentation.

However, India did not answer the following questions by Pakistan: When did he retire and why? What evidence is there to suggest that he retired? Why was he in possession of an authentic Indian passport with a cover name?

Pakistani lawyer Khawar Qureshi said that Pakistan suffered more than 74,000 casualties and fatalities due to terrorism, caused "mainly by the interference of our neighbour, India". He also described India's intelligence agency R&AW as a "brutal" foreign intelligence agency which sent Kulbhushan Jadhav to "assist plan and cause terrorism" in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

While Pakistan made references to India's role in terror activities, the documents it submitted to the ICJ did not contain any evidence of India's involvement to support the claims.

There were three references to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his statements and extensive discussion on National Security Advisor Ajit Doval's involvement in anti-Pakistan activities but again, no evidence was submitted to back the claims.

During a 2014 speech, Ajit Doval had said, "Pakistan's vulnerability is many times higher than that of India. Once they know that India has shifted its gear from the defensive mode to defensive offence, they will find that it is unaffordable for them. You can do one Mumbai [attack], you may lose Balochistan. There is no nuclear war involved and there is no troop's engagement. If you know the tricks, we know the tricks better than you."

Khawar Qureshi raised the issue of Jadhav's passport and tried to prove that it was an authentic Indian passport verified by a former UK immigration officer. He slammed India's dismissal of him as a "purported" expert.

"India has failed to explain why Commander Jadhav was allowed to travel 17 times on a fake passport," Qureshi said.

The Pakistani side also questioned India's objections to the case being tried in secrecy in the military courts of Pakistan and said that Kulbhushan Jadhav's family still had the window to legal recourse in Pakistan by appealing in the High Court, instead of coming to the ICJ.

"India shows that this case is not about consular access, it is political theatre, grandstanding," Qureshi added.

The proceedings hit a new low when Qureshi named and spoke nastily of officers such as Deepak Mittal, a senior officer in the delegation, India's then deputy chief of mission, JP Singh, and went all the way up to India's national security advisor and even the prime minister.

February 20 would see India presenting the counter arguments to Pakistan's submissions which will be followed by Pakistan on day four.