According to a Geo News report, Khawar Qureshi, the lawyer representing Pakistan at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has blamed the Indian government for the ‘baseless propaganda’ surrounding the case fee he charged, something that became a rallying point for many on the social media to poke fun at him. What exacerbated his misery was the obvious comparison with Harish Salve, the Indian counsel in the case, who took just Re 1 as his court fee, a symbolism of his commitment to his motherland.
The lawyer, who has been blamed by many experts and politicians in Pakistan for not preparing well for the case and leaving many loopholes in his arguments, told Geo News that “references to his fees were complete lies fabricated by Indian Twitterati and Indian nationals behind such baseless propaganda may have government backing”.
The ICJ decision yesterday, staying execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan till the case was underway in the UN court, saw a rush of tweets on how a highly paid but ill-prepared Pak lawyer could not stand the legal wisdom of Harish Salve who charged just Re 1. The speculation on Twitter about his fees was largely based on media reports from Pakistan that quoted his fees for the case at around 5,00,000 British Pound, i.e., a whopping 7 crore in Pak currency and around 4.25 crore in Indian currency.
So, even if Qureshi says that “his fees were not even 10 per cent of what the Indian propaganda suggests” and even if he justifies the amount he charged by saying he “cancelled another professional commitment with another government to travel to Pakistan urgently”, he would always find it difficult to justify even this reduced gap, i.e., at 10 per cent of the claims being made, between Harish Salve’s Re 1 winning gesture to his Rs. 42.5 lakh case fee, especially when he wasted 40 minutes of the 90 minutes given to his team to present its side of the arguments. To add to Qureshi’s misery, Indian team under the leadership of Salve used its full 90 minutes.
Qureshi might have given “a 30 per cent reduction on his fees, besides covering the cost of two of his juniors’ fees”, as he claims, the bottom line is, he is being slammed in Pakistan for mishandling the case and his high fees, even at 30 per cent discount, is not giving him any room to breathe easy because Pakistan has made Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case a prestige issue and the yesterday debacle saw a mourning like atmosphere there.
It is true that the ICJ has given only an interim stay of Jadhav’s execution and Pakistan and Qureshi say they have enough evidence to prove their case in the course of hearing, the truth of the moment is, India has scored a clear diplomatic victory over Pakistan and a moral boost for further case proceedings at the ICJ.
Earlier in the day, a news came from Pakistan that it was going to have a new legal team for the case, but now Pakistan has filed a plea in the ICJ to rehear the case within six weeks with reports saying that Qureshi will continue to represent Pakistan. So, now that Qureshi is going to remain there, he has now the opportunity to silence his critics, both on his legal acumen in the case and on his exorbitant fee. Let’s see if he can match Harish Salve.