Pakistan on Thursday said alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav will remain alive till he does not exhaust the right to seek clemency, even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif discussed with top officials Islamabad's strategy to counter India at the next hearing in the International Court of Justice.
"Irrespective of ICJ's stay, Jadhav will remain alive until he has exhausted the right to request for clemency, initially with the COAS (army chief) and later with the President," Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said at a briefing in Islamabad.
Sources privy to the Sharif meeting said the National Security Committee (NSC) discussed Pakistan's options and preparation to defend its stance in the case, with the next ICJ hearing scheduled on June 8.
The meeting was attended by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Hayat, naval chief Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, air chief Sohail Aman and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Adviser to Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and the National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. (redt) Nasser Khan Janjua participated in the meeting.
The meeting also discussed names of former judges of the superior judiciary to select the ad hoc judge for the ICJ. However, no name was finalised.
Zakaria said the Indian petition at the International Court of Justice was about Jadhav's entitlement to consular access.
"It is not about whether the ICJ can act as a Court of Appeal from Pakistani legal proceedings. That is why Barrister Khawar Qureshi informed the Court that India cannot obtain from the Court what it is seeking. He also told the Court that India is using media to create false impression about the case."
The spokesperson said India had failed despite reminders to provide information sought on January 23 by Islamabad on the basis of Jadhav's alleged confession of spying and fomenting terror in Pakistan.
He termed the ICJ stay on Jadhav's hanging as "nothing but usual".
India last month moved the ICJ against the death sentence awarded to Jadhav by a military court for "fomenting terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi".
The UN court granted provisional suspension of the execution on May 18.