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The BBC's Geraldine Coughlin in The Hague
"The court declared it had no jurisdiction over the dispute"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
World court blow for Pakistan
Pakistan's Aziz Munshi and India's Soli Sorabjee
Lawyers from the two countries argued at the ICJ
The International Court of Justice has ruled against Pakistan in a dispute with India over the shooting down of a naval plane.

Judges in The Hague voted 14-2 in favour of India, which had argued that the world court had no jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

Pakistan cannot appeal the decision.

The decision has been welcomed by India.

Kashmir Conflict
ICJ President Gilbert Guillaume told the two countries that they were obliged under international law to settle disputes peacefully.

Pakistan's attorney general, Aziz Munshi, said the ruling offered hope.

"I am not totally disappointed with the decision... this is in fact a step forward," he told Reuters.

"This means that all disputes, including the Kashmir dispute, must be settled through peaceful means," he said.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesman told journalists that India welcomed the court's ruling as well as the call for peaceful negotation.

An Indian official with the plane's wreckage
India said the aircraft was on a spy mission
"Through its comments, the court has upheld India's stand on these landmark agreements that are the cornerstone of India-Pakistan relations," the spokesman said.

Shooting

Last August, a Pakistani naval aircraft was brought down near the international border with India by the Indian Air Force.

All 16 personnel on board the aircraft were killed.

Pakistan said the aircraft was on a routine training mission - but India alleged that it was on a spy mission and had violated its airspace.

It brought the case before the ICJ in September 1999 and said it wanted the court to rule that India acted unlawfully in shooting down the aircraft.

During four days of hearing in April this year, Pakistan said the plane was well inside its territory when it was shot down and demanded that India pay compensation.

India's attorney general, Soli Sorabjee, argued that the ICJ had no adjudication to settle disputes between member states of the Commonwealth.

Observers said it was one of the first times that the ongoing war of rhetoric between Pakistan and India had reached the ICJ, which is the main judicial organ of the United Nations.

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See also:

03 Apr 00 | South Asia
Pakistan plane claim goes to Hague
31 Aug 99 | South Asia
India rejects plane compensation call
11 Aug 99 | South Asia
Plane attack raises tensions
10 Aug 99 | South Asia
The disputed Sir Creek
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