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Pak obliged to explain: expert

India’s handing over of evidence related to the involvement of Pakistan-based terror elements in the Mumbai attacks has put the onus of proving its innocence on Islamabad now in accordance with well settled principles of international law, top jurists say.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2009 00:02 IST
Nagendar Sharma

India’s handing over of evidence related to the involvement of Pakistan-based terror elements in the Mumbai attacks has put the onus of proving its innocence on Islamabad now in accordance with well settled principles of international law, top jurists say.

So far, Pakistan maintained that since it had no extradition treaty with India, it was not possible to hand over any of the suspects wanted by India without scrutinising the evidence against them.

The surprise announcement by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday morning to share the evidence with Islamabad caught the Pakistani establishment off-guard. Now, they they will need to do a lot of explaining to the world community.

According to a well-settled principle of the international law, once a country gets any proof of the involvement of its nationals in acts of terror in another country, it is obliged to explain the conduct of its citizens and to provide all details regarding them.

“Pakistan may try to use the absence of an extradition treaty with India as an excuse, but how would it escape the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) landmark judgement which ruled that it is every state’s obligation not to allow knowingly its territory to be used for acts contrary to the rights of other states,” said noted jurist A.G. Noorani.

Once Pakistan was aware of the facts, it couldn’t escape the ruling of the famous Corfu Channel Case between Britain and Albania in 1949, he said.

Noorani reminded that the ICJ had held the United States guilty of breach of its duties in 1986, when it supported the anti-government forces in Nicaragua. “It was found that the US was in breach of its duties under customary international law,” Noorani said.

Supporting his argument, former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati said Pakistan had tried to escape the provisions of international treaties for long, but its luck seemed to be running out.

“Confronted with details of its citizen in custody in India and the transcripts of phone calls between Karachi and Mumbai are water-tight proofs under any law,” Bhagwati said.