By Raman Acharya
Yesterday, the world celebrated the International Day of Justice — a day celebrated every year on 17 July to commemorate the anniversary of Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court. The coincidence of that date adds a layer of importance to the yesterday’s verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague on a famous spy case involving state terrorism, the first one of its nature in the history of ICJ
International Court of Justice yesterday announced its decision to reject the Indian plea to acquit its spy who had been captured in Pakistan in 2016 after being found involved in terrorist and subversive activities there. Spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian Naval commander had been caught on an authentic Indian passport issued in false name of Mubarik Hussain Patel, a Muslim name that made it easier for him to camouflage in the Muslim majority Pakistan. Obviously that could only be done by the original passport issuing authority. Yadhav had been instrumental in several terrorist attacks.
Jadhav was handed over death sentence in Pakistan by a court there for involvement in terrorist activities
After an initial denial of Jadhav’s link with Indian Navy, internal pressure in Indian that built after the death sentence compelled India to accept his status as a Naval commander and to raise the matter at the international level. India sought ICJ to order the spy Jadhav’s acquittal and his return to India, besides full right to consular access; obviously standing on the floor of the court in Hague, it was no more possible to keep his identity in dark; issuance of an authentic passport in a fake name was then a matter of simple corollary whose denial would have been simply comic.
In yesterday’s decision, the International Court rejected Indian plea to acquit or annul the death sentence to the convicted terrorist. The court asked Pakistan for a review of the death sentence through a “means of its own choosing” to ensure that no rights of the captured spy had been violated because of inadequacy of Consular access provided to him by Pakistan. The Court upheld Indian plea of laxity on the part of Pakistan in providing the Consular access to Jadhav.
The case, perhaps the first one of its nature in the history of International Court of Justice, holds relevance to our entire region including Nepal. The 42-page decision is important on its own merit; but its significant implications do not end with that. It blends well with the current global and regional environment and politics.
One, upholding Pakistan’s right to give death penalty to a terrorist would certainly strengthen the existing global against state terrorism sponsored by one country on the soil of another. Pakistan had long been a victim of terrorism and alleging the involvement of its eastern neighbor in such activities. The ICJ decision lent global eyes and ears to Pakistan’s position of state sponsored terrorism.
In times when Indian RSS ideology is earning the otherwise peace loving Hindus around the word the label of ‘inflexible fundamentalists’, it is important for us as Nepalis to distance ourselves from extremist activities. ICJ’s decision against Jadhav that gave worldwide projection to the state sponsored terrorist would certainly fuel that perception. By acknowledging Pakistan’s right to execute the convicted Naval Commander, the International Court has viewed him as a terrorist involved in killing innocent men and women on the behest of his state apparatus. That fits into a classical picture of state sponsored terrorism.
Nepalis have, all along their history of thousands of years have been a peaceful and tolerant nation and hold the tradition of a well integrated prejudice free peace loving people from different religions, castes, geographies and languages ; that makes Nepal the proverbial garland of flowers. The world must not confuse them with the growing intolerance being exhibited in its southern neighbour. If that is to happen, the already difficult lives would become even more difficult for our expats in Gulf, Europe and especially in the West whose number runs into millions. They run the economy of the country.
The circumstances surrounding Jadhav’s arrest and his activities in Pakistan by themselves are of importance, not only for India and Pakistan, but for the region which is getting fast integrated into Chinese imitative of BRI. Jadhav had been carrying out his terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan’s thinly populated Baluchistan province that is home to the Gawadar Port, the terminal port of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Obviously there was strategic target that he had been assigned to achieve. I refuse even to presume that a country that could use and depute its Naval Commanders for terrorism to destabilize BRI projects in one neighbor would send flowers to another neighbour on similar economic projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There is a need to be watchful, if we are to take our own economic decisions, whatever they be.
The world has seen now for decades that terrorism can neither be treated as a localized issue nor divorced from its worst form, the state terrorism. Countries and societies, if they are to insulate themselves from being soiled by terrorism in the region they need to remain mindful of the happenings around them. In today’s world nothing is isolated from its environment.