Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he appreciated the decision of the International Court of Justice not to acquit and release its Indian prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav. “He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Khan tweeted.

Pakistan has claimed victory in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case despite the International Court of Justice ruling that the country had violated the Vienna Convention in its treatment of the former Indian Navy officer, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for espionage. The court asked Islamabad not to execute Jadhav for now.

“Big win for Pakistan,” the government tweeted. “India’s demand of release and repatriation of Kulbhushan Jadhav rejected by IC.”

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Jadhav would remain in Pakistan and treated in accordance with its laws. “This is a victory for Pakistan,” he tweeted. At a press conference he pointed out that India’s request for Jadhav’s acquittal and release had not been accepted. “If they still want to claim victory...good luck.”

In New Delhi, the verdict was hailed as being in India’s favour. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said truth and justice had prevailed while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that the judgement was a big win for Modi’s diplomatic initiative.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India stood vindicated following the judgement, while former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she hoped that the judgement would provide much-needed solace to Jadhav’s family members.

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Pakistan breached Vienna Convention, must not execute Kulbhushan Jadhav for now, rules ICJ

The international court’s decisions were overwhelmingly in favour of India on most counts, with 15 of the 16 judges on the court concluding that Pakistan violated the Convention. The only dissenting vote came from Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, an ad-hoc Pakistani judge who was placed on the bench, since it already included an Indian judge.

Pakistan claimed that Jadhav had been spying for India’s Research and Analysis Wing when he was caught in 2016 – a claim that India denies. India, which rarely approaches international forums for justice, had urged the International Court of Justice to review Pakistan’s treatment of Jadhav, saying it was illegal.

In its judgement, the court first decided that it had clear jurisdiction in the matter, despite Pakistan’s objections. It also found that the treatment of Jadhav was in contravention of the Vienna Convention, which both countries are party to. Since this treatment breached international law, the court said Pakistan would now have to review and reconsider the case. It added that Pakistan must not execute Jadhav before that, calling it an “indispensable condition” for the review and reconsideration of the case.

India maintains that Jadhav was working on his private business in Iran when he was kidnapped by Pakistan.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied India access to Jadhav. The latest was on April 6, when it claimed New Delhi’s request for consular access to Jadhav was “not appropriate” because the verdict was pending in the case at the International Court of Justice.

On February 20, India had delivered its final arguments in the case before ICJ. Indian counsel Harish Salve had said that Jadhav has become a pawn in a Pakistan tool to divert international scrutiny from itself. He had then referred to the terror attack in Pulwama on February 14 that killed at least 40 CRPF personnel.