India steps up pressure on Pak

Death for Kasab: Order comes just ahead of PMs meet with Pak Prez

As the Supreme Court verdict upholding the death sentence awarded to Ajmal Kasab came just ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Tehran, New Delhi on Wednesday stepped up pressure on Islamabad to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

“After today’s verdict on Kasab, Pakistan should ensure that others involved in 26/11 living in that country should also be punished,” said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Kasab was among the 10 Pakistani terrorists who sailed from Karachi to Mumbai and killed at least 174 people and maimed countless others in a four-day-long carnage between November 26 and 29, 2008. He was the only terrorist to be caught alive, while his accomplices were all gunned down.

As Singh and Zardari are likely to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on Thursday, New Delhi used the Supreme Court’s verdict on Kasab to bring back the focus on the tardy progress of the trial of seven 26/11 plotters in Pakistan.

“I am sure Pakistan will not fail to take note of it (SC’s judgment on Kasab),” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told journalists in the Iranian capital on Wednesday.

New Delhi has since long been asking Islamabad to expedite trial of the seven LeT operatives at the Anti-Terrorism Court in Pakistan’s garrison city, Rawalpindi.

However, not only did the trial continued at a slow pace, but the suspected mastermind of the attacks, Hafiz Saeed, was also set free just a few months after he was detained in the wake of intense diplomatic campaign by New Delhi.

Earlier this year, the US had announced a bounty of $ 10 million on Saeed, but the jihadi ideologue continues to live free in Lahore and travels across Pakistan, spewing venom against India and the West.

The seven 26/11 accused being tried in Pakistan included top LeT leader Zaki ur Rehman Laqvi. The trial was adjourned twice this month as the lawyer defending the accused failed to turn up before the court, citing cancellation of flight on August 4 and ill-health on August 26. The judge adjourned the hearing till September 1.

An eight-member Pakistani judicial commission visited India in March this year and recorded statements of four witnesses in Mumbai. But the court trying the LeT operatives in Pakistan rejected the commission’s report last month, pointing out that the panel was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses in India.

Pakistan later offered to send the judicial commission to Mumbai again and asked India to give permission for cross-examination of the witnesses. New Delhi is understood to be considering Islamabad’s offer.

“Whatever steps need to be taken, we will do. Pakistan must punish all those who are guilty,” the Home Minister said on Wednesday.

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