In a fresh attempt by Pakistan to provide a new spin to the Kulbhushan Jadhav case following the embarrassment it faced at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Islamabad has written to India seeking information about its former army officer, Lt Col Mohammed Habib Zahir, who went missing from Nepal on April 6, says a Times of India report.
In the past two months, several security officials in Pakistan have been quoted by their media as saying that India was behind the abduction of Habib in its bid to secure Jadhav’s release. This, however, is the first time Islamabad has officially raised the issue with the Indian mission.
While India has consistently maintained that they have no knowledge about Habib, the Pakistan government said that they are convinced that he was in India’s external intelligence agency RAW’s custody.
The report cited Nepal embassy officials saying that investigations into Habib’s disappearance are still on. Pakistan had earlier approached Nepal foreign ministry seeking their help in locating Habib.
Habib, who had worked in the past with ISI, had just arrived at Lumbini from Kathmandu when he disappeared. According to Habib’s family, he had been offered a job with a UN agency in Nepal and was promised a salary of $8,500 per month. Unconfirmed media reports have claimed that he was on a "secret" ISI mission to Nepal.
Pakistan’s move to raise Habib’s disappearance comes at a time when the two countries are locked in a legal battle at the ICJ over the death sentence awarded to Jadhav by a Pakistan military court.
Brushing aside Pakistan's contention that it lacked jurisdiction in the matter, the ICJ stayed Jadhav's death penalty until the time it gives its final verdict on India's petition seeking his release.
An agency report from Pakistan said that Pakistan's attorney-general Ashtar Ausaf Ali will lead a team to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on June 8 for a meeting of "agents" from India and Pakistan with the court's president to discuss the future proceedings in the Jadhav case.