After five months since the hearings, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced its verdict in the (India v. Pakistan) Kulbhushan Jadhav case. It was a decision anxiously anticipated by both countries, and in the end, the verdict was not unexpected at all. The Court did not come hard for any side- allowing for a situation where both countries can claim victory.

To see how this case might have been a victory for either Pakistan or India, one has to analyse the facts of the case. Jadhav was an Indian spy, who had been caught with an authentic but false Muslim passport in Balochistan. When he was caught, he was alleged to have been aiding terrorist activities in Sindh and Balochistan. A military court sentenced Jadhav to death, and his appeal for mercy was not upheld. It is true that during his trial, Pakistan did not grant proper consular access to India, despite allowing Jadhav to meet his wife.

These facts clearly imply that Jadhav’s case was not one of black and white; Pakistan’s lack of consular access was a valid contention, but India’s demanded relief, as well as its wish to brush away the espionage charge on Jadhav, were incredulous. In light of this, the ICJ released a fairly balanced verdict-it ruled that Pakistan suspend the execution of the death penalty, that Jadhav be allowed consular access and asked Pakistan to ensure “effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences”. India’s relief of annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and his return to India, was soundly rejected by the Court.

This case was important not just in the context of terrorism, espionage and the debate of whether there are exceptions in international consular law, but it also served as a legal battlefield for the decades-old Indian-Pakistani conflict. India’s decision to file a case before the ICJ, before opting for any of the conciliation procedures listed in the Optional Protocol, was an extremely hostile move, intended to humiliate Pakistan. In that context, India did not win in this case. Pakistan’s dignity and the esteem of its legal system remain upheld by the international court, which has trusted Pakistan to effectively review and reconsider Jadhav’s case, keeping intact international standards of due process and consular access. Let us not disappoint them.