Pakistan blames India for slow pace of 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial | india-news | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Feb 26, 2017-Sunday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Pakistan blames India for slow pace of 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial

india Updated: Feb 04, 2017 01:42 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mumbai terror attacks

Pakistan has blamed India in writing for the weak prosecution and slow progress in the ongoing 2008 Mumbai attacks trial in Islamabad.(Hemant Padalkar/HT File Photo)

Pakistan has blamed India in writing for the weak prosecution and slow progress in the ongoing 2008 Mumbai attacks trial in Islamabad, even suggesting Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi got bail because New Delhi couldn’t provide incriminating evidence.

In July 2015, foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan exchanged letters after a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Ufa, Russia.

The contents of the letter from Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry – a copy of which is with HT – haven’t been previously revealed and the tone and substance suggests that Islamabad isn’t seriously pursuing the trial.

Chaudhry’s letter dated September 8, 2015 accepts that the meeting between Modi and Sharif “provided us a direction to move forward”. It points out that “the government of Pakistan has assigned a dedicated high level team of experts to closely monitor the developments in the case.

Read | Pakistan puts Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed under house arrest

But the letter goes on to add: “So far the prosecution evidence remains weak and incomplete due to the failure on the part of the Indian authorities to provide incriminating evidence that they claimed was in their possession.”

The document puts the responsibility of providing evidence on New Delhi.

“It is neither reasonable nor acceptable to blame Pakistan for the slow pace or lack of progress. It was Indian authorities’ responsibility to provide all the material evidence which has not been done.”

The trial’s sluggish pace and lack of convictions has been a thorn in bilateral relations and India has maintained that crucial evidence was to be found in Pakistan, the site of training and plotting of the 26/11 strikes that killed 166 people.

“Despite repeated provocation and obfuscation by Pakistan, we continue to cooperate. Their judicial commission has been here twice,’’ a government official said. “It is preposterous to blame us for Lakhvi’s bail when it is well known that he even sired a son while in custody. He was a free man even while in jail.”

Read more

Chaudhry’s letter goes on allege that India delayed the Pakistani judicial commission’s Mumbai visit that set back crucial gathering of proof such as recording the statements of prosecution witnesses, including the chief metropolitan magistrate who recorded the statement of the lone surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab.

“…(it had been) emphasised that further delay in facilitating the commission’s visit…could weaken the prosecution’s case against the principal accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, resulting in bail, lesser sentence or acquittal,” the document read.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar replied to Chaudhry a year later, saying India would be glad to consider the requirement for material evidence by deputing a Pakistani judicial commission.

“It is neither reasonable nor acceptable to blame Pakistan for the slow pace or lack of progress. It was Indian authorities’ responsibility to provide all the material evidence which has not been done.”
-- Pak foreign secy Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry

He underlined, however, that ‘’this cooperation can only be supplementary to the full investigation in Pakistan of the entire period of the conspiracy and of all relevant places and actors.”

Pakistan is still to reply to Jaishankar’s letter of September 6, 2016.

A Pakistani official, on the condition of anonymity, said that they too would reply in a year’s time.

But why did India take a year to respond to Chaudhry? Defending the delay, an Indian official said the “early conclusion of the trial was discussed at a bilateral meeting of foreign ministers and the national security advisers in December 2015”.

India is now closing developments relating to the house arrest of Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and waiting to see if perceived American pressure adds speed to not just the 26/11 trial but also a probe into the attack on an air force base in Pathankot in January 2016.

Read more

While responding to the house arrest, the MEA spokesperson had referred to the ongoing Mumbai trial, saying, “Only a credible crack down on the mastermind of the Mumbai terrorist attack and terrorist organisations involved in cross-border terrorism would be proof of Pakistan’s sincerity.”

When asked specifically about Pakistan blaming India, a government official said, “Pakistan will be judged by the actions it takes to ensure that there exists no scope for terrorists to use its territory for violence against India and Indian interests.”