ISLAMABAD: Soon after taking oath as the federal minister, Farogh Naseem arrived at the National Assembly on Friday and told the lawmakers that the government has not given any concessions — similar to the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) — to the convicted Indian spy Khulbhushan Jadhav.
Naseem had arrived at the lower house of the Parliament after taking oath from President Arif Alvi to respond to the opposition’s claim that the government had given any relief to RAW spy.
The minister, in his speech, said an ordinance was promulgated a couple of weeks ago to implement the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the Indian agent. He added that it was his responsibility to inform everyone regarding the “facts” pertaining to the case.
The minister said Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 and the PML-N-led government at that time had decided not to grant consular access to the Indian spy. He added that the PML-N government had not given consular access as Jadhav was caught for spying in Pakistan.
The minister said that on May 8, 2017 India had filed a case in the ICJ and pleaded the court to direct Pakistan to release Jadhav. He added that the ICJ rejected India’s appeal but directed Pakistan to grant consular access to him.
“The ordinance was issued in view of the ICJ verdict. This ordinance is not an NRO. The NRO was issued by Musharraf,” said the minister. He added that if Pakistan had not given consular access to India, then New Delhi would have raised the issue in front of the world.
“If the ordinance was not brought then India would have gone to the UN Security Council. Pakistan has cut India’s hand by bringing in the ordinance,” said Naseem, adding that New Delhi would have sought sanctions against us if we hadn’t issued the ordinance.
“Where is it written in the ordinance that the conviction has ended?” asked the minister, adding that neither has the sentence been cut nor has the Indian spy been given any concession.”
Naseem said that the government was not bound to inform the opposition before promulgating an ordinance.
Bilawal accuses Imran of giving NRO to Jadhav
On Thursday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had alleged in the National Assembly that the PTI government and Prime Minister Imran Khan were trying to give NRO to Kulbhushan Jadhav.
In a thunderous speech in the National Assembly, where a recent ordinance related to convicted Indian spy Jadhav’s appeal against military court verdict was being discussed, Bilawal said that the prime minister, since day one, has been saying that he will not give any NRO to anyone.
“The amount of NROs PM Imran gave, in the history of Pakistan, no dictator or leader has [ever] given,” said the PPP leader, adding that when the Senate took up the matter of the Indian spy, the government issued an ordinance in this regard.
He also responded to an earlier statement of a PTI senator and minister Shireen Mazari, who said that the PTI (when in opposition) had taken a stance against accepting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in the case.
“If you are not acknowledging the jurisdiction of the international courts that does not mean you give NRO through the Pakistani laws to an Indian spy,” retorted Bilawal, as the opposition members thumped their desks in approval.
Bilawal had criticised the government after Foreign Office officials said, earlier this month, that Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav has been given a fresh opportunity by Pakistan to file a review petition against his sentence and conviction and also shared that the country had enacted a special ordinance for him to do so.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, FO Director-General South Asia Zahid Hafeez and Additional Attorney General Ahmad Irfan explained that Pakistan has taken all necessary steps as per the ICJ decision and that the country’s law allowed for a review of the decision from the start.
A review and reconsideration petition could be filed by Jadhav, his legally-authorised representative or a consular officer of the Indian High Commission at the Islamabad High Court, Hafeez said, adding that Pakistan had offered to assist in arranging a legal representative for the spy.
He explained that Pakistan had on May 20 enacted the ICJ Review and Reconciliation Ordinance, under which a review petition may be submitted to the IHC within 60 days of the legislation coming into effect.
The 60-day time limit had ended on July 19.
“Commander Kulbushan Jadhav or his lawyer may file a mercy appeal. [He] was offered on June 17, 2020, to file a review petition but he declined,” the officials had said.