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'Bilal not in Pakistan'

Pakistani agencies have tried looking for Shahid Bilal, who is believed to have engineered the Hyderabad and Ajmer blasts, but did not find him in their country, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2007 22:50 IST
Aloke Tikku

Pakistani agencies have tried looking for Shahid Bilal, who is believed to have engineered the Hyderabad and Ajmer blasts, but did not find him in their country.

Senior officials from Pakistan have, however, assured their Indian counterparts at the second round of the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism on Monday that they would continue the search.

Indian intelligence agencies believe Bilal, the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami operative suspected to have engineered the bomb blasts at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, was operating out of Karachi in Pakistan.

Delhi had sought cooperation from Islamabad to arrest him during the home secretary level talks in July this year.

The talks came in the backdrop of the attack at former Pak Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s rally last Thursday and saw Islamabad emphasising that Pakistan was too was a victim of terrorism and a frontline state in the war against terrorism. The delegation also accused Indian consulates in Afghanistan of fomenting terrorism in Pakistan and blamed Indian security agencies of fuelling separatist unrest in its southern Balochistan province.

“We have told them that we will look into the points raised," an Indian official said. Pakistan, however, did not hand over any concrete evidence to back the allegations.

Monday’s meeting was the second under the mechanism set up in pursuance of the decision between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Havana, Cuba, in September last year.

Sources said the Indian delegation led by additional secretary in the External Affairs Ministry,

K.C. Singh, gave “detailed information” on a series of terrorist incidents in India to the Pakistani delegation led by Khalid Aziz Babar, especially in relation to Shahid Bilal.

“Both sides shared new information on terrorist incidents including those, which have occurred since the last meeting (in March),” a joint statement issued at the end of the two-hour meeting that continued over lunch, stated.

The statement said the two countries also agreed to continue to work to identify measures, exchange specific information and assist in investigations. An Indian official said Pakistan promised to extend their cooperation and had returned with a similar assurance from Delhi.