Judge, jury, and executioner? | Pakistan Today

Judge, jury, and executioner?

Information minister of state cautions media with national security baton

The unanimous adverse decision of the ICJ bench hearing the Kulbhushan Jadhav case suddenly awoke people here to yet another embarrassing failure at an international forum. The tardy and ineffective response of a government not renowned for its competence, to the sudden Indian ‘ambush’ of third party arbitration, drew widespread condemnation from opposition parties, lawyers and media. Stung by this torrent of criticism, the government employed a device usually resorted to by past establishments, the untouchable matter of national security. “One should think before passing any judgment or comments over issues pertaining to national security as we cannot compromise on it” cautioned the information functionary, advising the political parties to unite on this issue instead of blaming the government. The incumbent leadership’s sense of importance is increasing inversely to its performance as, on the same day, the Speaker threatened to throw an independent member out of the Lower House and the Defence Minister called a lady legislator protesting against load shedding a thief, in so many words.

The negligent disregard of available options has rightly raised questions and eyebrows. These include, not withdrawing immediately from a March 29, 2017 declaration accepting ICJ jurisdiction once India made its surprise move, not appointing an ad hoc judge to the court, the Attorney General’s passive role, reported engaging of a Queens Counsel based in Qatar with no time to familiarise himself with the complex case, not requesting the court for a postponement and winding up the arguments in fifty minutes instead of utilising the allotted ninety minutes to hammer in our point. So vows of silence won’t work with so many unanswered questions.

Actually, the reasons behind Pakistan’s abysmal record in international forums need to be seriously aired and analysed, such as the Kishenganga Arbitration (2013), the World Bank’s London Tribunal’s 2017 ruling in Reko Diq case and shooting down of Pakistan Navy’s Atlantique aircraft (1999), in which latter case the cheeky Indians successfully took the plea that ICJ lacked jurisdiction in claims against India by other Commonwealth countries!