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SOURCE: PTI

Pakistan on Friday rejected India’s demand that an Indian lawyer or a Queen’s counsel should be appointed for death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav to ensure a free and fair trial in this country. Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, replying to a question during a media briefing, said India has been consistently making the “unrealistic demand” of allowing a lawyer from outside Pakistan to represent Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged spying.

We have informed India that only those lawyers are allowed to appear in Pakistani courts who have a license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in line with international legal practice. There can be no change in this position, he said. Queen’s Counsel is a barrister or advocate, appointed Counsel to the UK Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor.

Earlier this month, the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan directed the federal government to give India another chance to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav and adjourned hearing for a month. Pakistan’s Parliament on Tuesday extended for four months an ordinance that allowed Jadhav to file an appeal against his conviction in a high court as required by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the government of Pakistan has not been able to fulfil its obligations on implementation of the ICJ judgment in letter and spirit. “It has not yet addressed the core issues, which include provision of all documents related to the case, providing unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Kulbhusan Jadhav and appointment of an Indian lawyer or a Queen’s counsel to ensure a free and fair trial,” he said at an online media briefing on Thursday.

In 2017, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence handed to him by a military court. The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

India has slammed Pakistan for adopting a “farcical” approach in denying available legal remedies to Jadhav against his death sentence in contravention of the ICJ order. Fifty-year-old retired Indian Navy officer Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.

To a question about elevating Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province, the Foreign Office spokesperson said that reforms in GB were an ongoing process that include political, administrative and economic reforms. It (granting status of a province) has been a long-standing demand of the people of Giligit Baltistan.

These reforms will continue in line with the needs of the people of Gilgit Baltistan,” he said. India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.