Islamabad, May 19: After suffering a setback in round one at the International Court of Justice, Pakistan government decided to change the legal counsel arguing against Kulbhushan Jadhav at The Hague. The team led by advocate Khawar Qureshi would be replaced, confirmed Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, while speaking to Samaa News.
Advocate Qureshi came under severe criticism following the ICJ order on Thursday which granted momentary relief to Kulbhushan. Qureshi was accused of being ‘ill-prepared’ and presenting a ‘weak argument’ before the UN legal body, which led to the prima facie validation of India’s application.
Aziz told the local news channel a new team would be constituted to “vigorously present Pakistan’s stance” before international court. He further added that the government will take all steps possible to secure the verdict in their favour as the issue involving Kulbhushan pertains to “Pakistan’s national security”.
However, Aziz did not condemn the incumbent legal counsel led by Qureshi. The present legal team also presented our case in a “courageous manner”, he said.
According to reports, Pakistan’s Law Ministry began sending feelers to law firms in Islamabad, seeking the replacement of the counsel assigned at The Hague. Qureshi, who had earlier argued at ICJ in 1993, is a part of London-based law firm Serle Court, which was assigned by Pakistan to counter India’s petition at the ICJ.
Social media users in Pakistan also blasted Qureshi over the “exorbitant” fee charged by him to represent Pakistan in a case which pertains to “national security”. According to unconfirmed reports, Qureshi had charged the Pakistani government 5,00,000 British Pound, which is worth nearly 4.25 crore in Indian rupees and 7 crore in Pakistani currency.
Dismissing the reports, Qureshi claimed he charged “not even 10 per cent of the amount being pegged by Indian nationalists”. However, his detractors said even 10 per cent of the amount would be infinitely high as compared to the token of Re 1 being charged by Kulbhushan’s counsel Harish Salve.
The Pakistan People’s Party, one of the prime opposition members, have demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to explain why the counsel led by Qureshi argued for only 50 minutes out of the allotted 90 minutes at ICJ. On the other hand, India had completely utilised scheduled time slot.
“Pakistan did not even send a good team for defence despite having a good case,” said PPP vice president Sherry Rehman, suggesting the Pakistani PM to take cue from India. “Their (counsel) was way better prepared,” she reportedly added.
However, Aziz downplayed the criticism of opposition parties, saying the stay against Kulbhushan’s execution was a routine order. “A stay is granted automatically even in our courts when one files an appeal. There is no reason to believe Pakistan has lost the case,” he said, further adding that the final verdict of ICJ would be in Pakistan’s favour.
The ICJ order released on Thursday stayed the execution of Kulbhushan till the matter remains under the jurisdiction of the international court. The 15-judge bench, led by ICJ President Ronny Abraham said, “Pakistan must ensure Mr Kulubhushan Jadhav is not executed till this court announces the final verdict.”