Media Matters

How Pakistan’s press reacted to ICJ stay on Jadhav execution: Setback, unprepared, Jindal connect?

Many newspapers questioned Islamabad’s handling of the case, while some held out hope that the final decision will go their way.

The International Court of Justice’s order on Thursday calling on Pakistan not to execute former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who Islamabad accuses of being an Indian spy, was widely seen as a success for India, which took the unusual step of internationalising the issue. Across the border, however, the response was the opposite. Pakistani newspapers carried stories of politicians, lawyers and others criticising their government for losing the preliminary battle to India – and, in some cases, for even turning up at the ICJ.

An op-ed column by Yasser Latif Hamdani in Daily Times said that Pakistan should have seen this coming, and that any arguments that Islamabad should have refused to go to the ICJ would have yielded no impact. Hamdani adds that India’s decision to go beyond bilateral approaches should open up vistas for Pakistan in the future, but adds that in this case, “the best approach would be to ensure that Kalbhushan Jhadav is accorded an appeals process that is up to the highest possible standards of justice”.

In the same pages, Reema Omer makes a point that would be familiar to many Indians as well: TV channels need to stop misleading the public based on ideas of nationalism.

“It seems we have become incapable of understanding the law objectively and instead use it project our own aspirations. In Jadhav’s case this was all the more striking as nationalist sentiment, not a dispassionate assessment of the law, was the primary driving factor behind the “expertise” on display, misleading the public on the applicable law and hence Pakistan’s chances, or lack thereof, of “winning”.”

The country’s oldest newspaper, Dawn carried a story featuring Pakistan experts questioning the handling of the case. Among many who took issue with the ICJ’s decision, the piece also quoted human rights activist Asma Jahangir who struck a different note, saying Pakistan should not make this a matter of ego.

“Who gave the opinion to deny consular access to Jadhav in the first place? ... Will it not endanger the rights of the prisoners languishing in Indian jails? Can one change international law?”

The paper also quoted Opposition politicians in Pakistan lambasting the government for its approach to the case. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf spokesperson in fact, connected the matter to another story that had emerged a few weeks ago, and demanded that the Pakistan prime minister “disclose all details of his covert meetings with Indian businessman Jindal.”

The Express Tribune also carried a piece featuring criticism of the Pakistan government’s handling of the case, but in another story it relayed comments from the government as well. The piece featured quotes from Pakistan’s Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting who said that Opposition parties should not pass judgment on issues of national security, “as it will be against the sovereignty of the country”.

One of the “must-read” stories on the website of ARY News looked into the question of whether ICJ decisions in cases like this are binding upon member countries, concluding that they are. It added, however that “it is pertinent to note here that the ICJ order on Kulbhushan Jadhav case is not the final judgment of the court.”

Lots of Pakistani politicians and analysts also responded to the case on Twitter.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.


The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.