The American administration is now urging Pakistan to ensure that those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks are punished inside the country instead of being extradited to India, reports Kamal Siddiqi.
The American administration is now urging Pakistan to ensure that those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks are punished inside the country instead of being extradited to India, local Pakistani media has reported. Quoting unnamed sources, local media channels said on Friday that the Bush administration has informed the government of Pakistan that it would like it to initiate “prosecution with sufficient efforts to ensure conviction”.
The reports came ahead of a meeting on Friday between US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. In the meeting, President Zardari said that Indo-Pak tension should be resolved through dialogue.
According to a press statement matters relating to terrorism and regional situation were also discussed in the meeting. President Zardari told Patterson that India has so far not responded positively to its offer of cooperation to counter terrorism in the region.
Local media reports said that the US has changed its attitude and while it previously backed the Indian demand that some of the suspects be extradited to India, the change in their attitude followed a realisation in Washington that it would not be easy for the Pakistani government to extradite key Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders to India.
In their negotiations with US officials on this issue, the Pakistanis insisted that the extradition of Pakistani citizens to India — particularly when the two countries did not have an extradition treaty — would have unpredictable consequences for the government.
The Pakistanis argued that the resulting political instability would not only weaken the government but could also harm the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan as Pakistan played a key supporting role in this war.
The softening in US attitude is also linked to a crackdown in Pakistan on LeT and other militant groups. The move appears to have convinced Washington that Pakistan is serious about uprooting militant groups that use its territory for conducting attacks inside India and Afghanistan, said the reports.
Meanwhile, it was also reported that a National Counter-terrorism Authority (NCA) is being set up in Pakitstan to bring about increased coordination in efforts directed at countering terrorism. Significantly, this organization will be headed by a civilian, the Daily Dawn reported.
Terror attacks up
Pakistan’s leading welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, has termed 2008 as a year of suicides and suicidal attacks during which terrorist attacks increased by 50 per cent as compared to 2007.
“The number of suicides and suicidal attacks increased by 50 per cent in 2008 as compared to the previous year,” the internationally acknowledged Edhi Foundation said in its report released on Friday.
The report said that 3,325 people committed suicide in Pakistan during 2008. It said that 51 terrorist attacks were recorded, including suicide attacks across the country. “We haven’t compiled the reasons for these suicides but the main reason is unemployment and poverty, leading to hunger and forcing people to commit suicide,” Edhi Foundation chairman Abdul Sattar Edhi said.