Khawar Qureshi, Pakistan’s counsel at ICJ, had represented UPA-led Indian Govt in 2004


New Delhi, May 20: The failure of Khawar Qureshi at The Hague, created political ramifications for Nawaz Sharif government back home in Pakistan. Questions were raised at the Pakistani PM over his choice of counsel to be sent at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, Qureshi also turned into a subject of political debate in neighbouring India, with the ruling BJP questioning why the erstwhile government led by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chose Qureshi to represent India at International Court of Arbitration in 2004.

“Explain why you chose a Pakistani to represent us at the International Court of Arbitration. Were there no good lawyers in our own nation?” BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao questioned Congress, which led the UPA coalition.

Qureshi, a part of Siree Law firm in London, was hired by India after Enron filed a US 6 billion lawsuit after India disqualified it from administering the Dabhol Power Plant. The case was lost by India.

“Was the case registered to only lose? Did the Congress not know the sensitivity involved? By hiring the Pakistani lawyer, the Congress showed they loved only ‘Made in Pakistan’ lawyers and that they did not trust in ‘Made in India’ lawyers,” Rao was quoted as saying by PTI.

Congress launched rebuttal, by issuing a counter argument against BJP. The party has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reply on his cabinet colleague Arun Jaitley being once the representative of Union Carbide. “Over 3,500 people were killed in Bhopal Gas Tragedy in Union Carbide, whose advocate is Arun Jaitley. I would like to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to justify this first, before questioning Qureshi and the UPA,” said Congress’ Randeep Surjewala.

On Saturday, Pakistan announced that it would be replacing the legal team led by Qureshi at The Hague with a panel headed by their Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali. Sartaz Aziz, Islamabad’s foreign policy chief, said the incumbent counsel argued with “paucity of time”, which led the validation of India’s application.

Qureshi drew flak for presenting Pakistan’s point for only 50 minutes of the allotted time slot 90 minutes. On the contrary, Indian counsel Harish Salve argued for total time allotted by the 11-judge bench.

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