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Pakistan assures India on Mumbai terror probe progress

Pakistan on Saturday assured India it was pursuing leads given against the alleged Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed though New Delhi had still not provided enough evidence on the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) supremo.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2009 21:41 IST

Pakistan on Saturday assured India it was pursuing leads given against the alleged Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed though New Delhi had still not provided enough evidence on the Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) supremo.

“What we need is evidence,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik at a press conference here after meeting Indian high commissioner Sharad Sabharwal to hand over Pakistan's dossier on the investigations so far.

His remarks came even as Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao reiterated in New Delhi that resumption of the composite dialogue, stalled after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, depends on Islamabad tackling cross-border terror.

“What we have done... that is not being appreciated. What is not being done is being advocated against us,” he said referring to Indian criticism that Pakistan was not pursuing investigation on information provided by India.

He asserted, “What we have done, nobody could have done" -- referring to the arrest of seven accused for masterminding the Mumbai terror attacks that claimed more than 170 lives.

“We arrested (Zaki-ur-Rehman) Lakhvi and further six. Seven accused arrested with plenty of evidence have been produced before the court.

"We want to take the entire matter to its logical conclusion," he said, adding that a charge sheet against the seven accused will be framed very soon.

"I assure you that we will give a fair trial," Malik added.

He again pointed out that the evidence given by India on Saeed would not be helpful in making a strong prosecution case.

Malik said that India had provided the statement of the lone terrorist captured after the Mumbai mayhem, Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab who has said that Saeed was closely involved in their training and planning.

“As you know, according to legal parameters, the statement of the accused cannot be taken as very credible. So if I arrest him and take him to my court, the court is going to ask me, 'Mr prosecutor what is the evidence? The persons giving the statement are sitting in India. Have you cross-examined Kasab?'” said the interior minister.

He urged India to share forensic details of the evidence. “We know there is pink foam as evidence. India knows it. Pakistan knows it. But, the court will ask what is the formulation to show that it is from this side?”

Malik was at pains to point out that Pakistan had not rejected the information India had provided. “We accept the information which is given by India as leads and I assure the leads are being pursued. I have not rejected those leads. We are investigating,” he said.

The minister said that Saeed was still under investigation. “If Hafiz Saeed has been bailed out by court, it should also be accepted,” he said.

At the same time, he asserted that Pakistan was a sovereign nation and cannot be dictated. “While we are a sovereign state, we can be given information, but we cannot be dictated."

“We will arrest the accused only if there is evidence and I assure you and my indian counterpart that if there is evidence against (the accused) during the investigation, we will take the step,” he said.

Pakistan's assurance comes days before India's External Affair Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, likely to be on Sep 26.

This will be the first high-level formal meeting between the two sides since the prime ministers of the two countries met at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, July 16 and agreed to the meeting between their foreign ministers during the 64th UN General Assembly.

Rao is also expected to meet her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in New York to review Islamabad's action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks that will also dominate the agenda for the foreign ministers' meeting.