Jadhav-specific bill adopted to implement ICJ verdict: Qureshi

• Foreign minister says no to hosting US military bases, cross-border drone strikes from Pakistan's soil

MULTAN: Denying the rumours of reaching a backdoor deal with India on Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi on Sunday said the government was taking measures to implement the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the case, Radio Pakistan reported.

Last week, the National Assembly passed the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, 2020 to provide the right of appeal to the Indian spy. Shortly after, the rumour mill went into overdrive with claims that the development was the result of a backchannel agreement.

During the session, the opposition MPs gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and raised slogans like “Kulbhushan Ko Phansi Do” (Hang Kulbhushan) when PML-N Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that the government had included the bill in the legislative agenda.

Speaking after the passage of the bill, Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said had they not passed the bill, India would have gone to the UN Security Council and could have moved contempt proceedings against Pakistan in the ICJ.

Today, Qureshi said the opposition should act sensibly and understand the nefarious designs of India. The government, he assured, was taking measures on recommendations of the ICJ.

Jadhav — a serving commander of the Indian Navy associated with the Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing — was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan on charges of espionage and terrorism.

In his trial at a military court, he had confessed to his involvement in terrorist plots and was sentenced to death in 2017.

In 2019, the World Court, after being approached by India, had ordered a stay in his execution through an interim order, urging Pakistan to review the penalty.

Qureshi said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government “mishandled” the issue, thereby “complicating” it for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.

The foreign minister also reiterated that the government will neither provide troops or bases to the US nor permit it to use Pakistan’s soil to conduct cross-border drone strikes.

“Pakistan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, will never provide its bases to the US,” he declared.

When asked, Qureshi said the process of accountability will continue and the government will not give National Reconciliation Ordinance to the looters.

Responding to Pakistan Peoples Party chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s reaction to the arrest of Syed Furrakh Shah, the son of PPP leader Khursheed Shah, he said everyone has the right to a fair trial.

But, he said, the accountability drive can’t be obstacled, and that Prime Minister Imran Khan would not offer NRO to corrupt elements.

The decision of Saudi Arabia to restrict the Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running would help avoid the spread of coronavirus and its several mutants.

When asked to comment on the criticism levied by Iqbal on what he said is the small increase in the defence budget, the foreign minister advised the PML-N MP to study the budget documents to “know the facts”.

About the work of District Coordination Committees, Qureshi said those were established at district-level following directions from the prime minister, and with a mandate to monitor development projects.

The committee will meet after 15 days to review development projects, Qureshi said.

Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of Al-Badar Park in his hometown of Multan and said that it would be an outstanding recreational facility for the people.

The Parks and Horticulture Authority has also been directed to plant trees in the park, he said.

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