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Kulbhushan Jadhav row: Was Nawaz Sharif responsible for weakening Pakistan's case against alleged spy?

While the Kulbhushan Jadhav row continues to plague diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan, a senior Pakistan politician has dragged Nawaz Sharif into the ongoing issue.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid alleged on Monday that the former prime minister, who was disqualified by the country's supreme court over Panama papers scandal, deliberately weakened Islamabad's case by never directly referring to the alleged Indian spy's role in spreading "terrorism" in restive Balochistan and rest of the country.

“Sharif is responsible for deliberately weakening the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. These people (PML-N) are liars, thieves, looters and dishonest people,” Rashid told Samaa TV.

Rashid, a known critic of the PML-N and an Imran Khan ally, added that "dishonest and looters" like Sharif must be gotten rid of by the public in the upcoming general election in 2018.

However, this is not the first time that Sharif has been criticised over the Jadhav case.

Sharif comes under Opposition fire

In fact, the Imran-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had cast aspersions on Sharif's alleged connections with Indian tycoon Sajjan Jindal after the International Court of Justice issued a temporary stay on Jadhav's execution in May 2017. PTI linked Sharif"s business interests with India to the unfavourable verdict and alleged that the PML-N government deliberately adopted an "irresolute and fragile strategy at the ICJ".

PTI had also questioned the appointment of Khawar Qureshi, who had never argued a case in the International Court of Justice. “Nawaz should appear before the house to explain why Pakistan did not appoint an ad hoc judge as it had a right to and why the Foreign Office did not take legal advice before initiating correspondence on the issue,” The Express Tribune quoted PTI as saying.

 Kulbhushan Jadhav row: Was Nawaz Sharif responsible for weakening Pakistans case against alleged spy?

File image of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May. India has said that Jadhav, who was arrested in Balochistan on 3 March, 2016, is innocent and has maintained that he was kidnapped from Iran, where he was on business after his superannuation from the Indian Navy.

In the immediate aftermath of the ICJ verdict, Sharif had come under fire from the Pakistani Opposition.

The PPP, the second-largest party in the country, claimed that Pakistan was ill-prepared to fight the case on the international stage.

"Pakistan did not utilise any option under Article 31 of statute which allows a party to nominate an individual as a judge," PPP was quoted by India Today as saying.

However, despite the Opposition's charges, Sharif chaired a meeting of the country's top civil and military officials a week after the verdict. In the meeting, he had discussed Islamabad's strategy to counter India in the Jadhav case.

The Express Tribune had quoted sources privy to the meeting as saying that the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting discussed Pakistan's options and preparation to defend its stance in the case.

The Panama Papers angle

PTI's opposition to Nawaz Sharif is well known and had played a major role in disqualifying Nawaz Sharif in July this year.

Linking the Jadhav case to Sharif's criticism of the Pakistan judiciary in the aftermath of his disqualification, PTI leader Shafqat Mehmood had said that such anti-judiciary tirade would impact the Jadhav case at the international forum.

Claiming that Sharif is trying to prove Pakistan's judicial system as "kangaroo courts", Mehmood said, "The same impression will go at international level and lessen the respect of Pakistani courts."

Two months after his disqualification by the supreme court, Sharif had slammed the judiciary for "implicating him", "When nothing was proved and they were not able to prove any corruption, they still disqualified me and used the iqama issue (his work permit with the UAE-based company),"

He had said that at least the court should have told the people that no allegation of corruption has been proved against him. "When legal experts themselves did not accept the decision, what could I do? These decisions were passed, punishments were given but they were not accepted."

He said the judges of the Supreme Court made a joint investigation team (JIT), monitored it, announced the decision and told the National Accountability Bureau [NAB] to file corruption cases.

"The same court took control of NAB... If necessary, this same court will listen to my last appeal as well after decision by NAB court. Is this how justice works? Is this what we call the rule of law?" he asked.

"This is the first case that the weight of the law was placed with the petitioner, and the rights of the defence was not implemented," he alleged.

Not just the PTI but also Rashid had raised Sharif's anti-judiciary stance to slam the PML-N, "The two brothers (Sharifs) have started a Ram-Shyam film with one brother (Shahbaz) taking side with the judiciary and the other firing it (Nawaz).” Rashid was quoted by Samaa as saying.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2017 14:47:26 IST