Toning down weeks of rhetoric, India has handed over to Islamabad material directly linking the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes to “elements in Pakistan” in the hope that the Zardari government would track down the perpetrators.
<b1>Soon after foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon gave the material to Pakistani high commissioner Shahid Malik on Monday, India said it expected Pakistan to promptly “undertake further investigations” into the attacks.
Interrogation details of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist; details of the terrorists’ communications with “elements in Pakistan”; pictures of seized weapons, equipment and other articles as well as data retrieved from a GPS unit and satellite phones have been made available to Pakistan.
A window of opportunity has re-opened for Pakistan to cooperate with India on bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice, but Islamabad, Menon said, would be judged by actions and not words.
A senior South Block official told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity that Pakistan’s response had been promises to cooperate both in New Delhi and Islamabad, where Indian high commissioner Satyabrata Pal handed over the same material to Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir.
Menon said Pakistan had been informed that a DNA sample of Kasab was available for verification.
The names of the terrorists killed during 26/11 have also been shared with Pakistan. Menon said India had provided the names of those on the other side of the telephone line that it could identify. Press reports have spoken of Lashkar operatives Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah as being the Pakistanis speaking to the terrorists while the Mumbai carnage was on.
Menon said Pakistan should now share with India the information it had collected during its own investigation into the Mumbai attacks. He was clear that the Mumbai conspiracy had been planned in Pakistan and India wanted full details.
He did not give a direct answer about whether India wanted the extradition of Pakistani suspects to New Delhi, but was clear that they must be brought to “Indian justice”.
It is being speculated that India and Pakistan could have had quiet contacts, facilitated by a third party, that led to the material being handed over to Islamabad. Earlier, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: “What happened in Mumbai was an unpardonable crime. As far as the government of Pakistan is concerned, we ask only that it implement the bilateral commitments that it has made at the highest levels to India...”
Officially, the Pakistan foreign office said in Islamabad that “information material” relating to the Mumbai attacks had been received from India.
By providing Pakistan with material links to 26/11, a major point raised repeatedly by Islamabad has been addressed. India had also been under pressure from key international players that it should share the Mumbai evidence with Pakistan.