India agrees to let Pak question 26/11 witnesses
India will allow a judicial commission from Pakistan to cross-examine three witnesses related to the trial of 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab.
“The government has a positive view on this request from Pakistan,” foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said after a 40-minute meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM summit.
During the meeting, Singh urged Zardari to have an expeditious conclusion of the trial of seven accused in Pakistan in connection with the 26/11 attacks.
Zardari said the judicial requirements in Pakistan were slowing down the process and brought up again the issue of cross-examining three witnesses in India — the magistrate who recorded Kasab’s statement and two doctors involved in his examination.
A judicial commission from Pakistan had visited India but was not allowed to cross-examine these witnesses, making its report unacceptable to the trial court in Pakistan. “Through the home ministry we are seeking some judicial clarification on this demand — whether it can be done,” said Mathai.
Singh accepted an invitation from Zardari to visit Pakistan but only at a “suitable time”. “The PM has agreed to a visit that will have to be well prepared and with a suitable outcome,” said Mathai.
While both sides expressed happiness over the progress being made in areas such as trade, Singh laid emphasis on terrorism. Expediting the trial of the 26/11 accused would be a very effective confidence-building measure in bilateral relations and would generate public opinion in India in favour of enhanced engagements with Pakistan, the PM told Zardari. Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to bringing to justice the accused, but pointed to technical hindrances in the trial court.