For talks, hasten 26/11 trial: India

For talks, hasten 26/11 trial: India

New Delhi has made it clear to Islamabad that the hitherto tardy trial of the seven 26/11 plotters in Pakistan must be expedited to bring the ties back on track and restart bilateral diplomatic engagement, after calling off the foreign secretary-level talks.

New Delhi has of late conveyed to Islamabad that unless some effective steps are taken to speed up the ongoing trial of the seven Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives at Rawalpindi in Pakistan, it would be difficult to resume formal parleys, suspended in January 2013.  Sources told Deccan Herald the message was conveyed through diplomatic channels, both in New Delhi and Islamabad.

Though Pakistan’s consultations with Hurriyat Conference and other separatist outfits of Kashmir was cited as the immediate provocation that prompted India to call off the talks, New Delhi was in fact also irked over Islamabad’s persistent reluctance to speed up the trial of the plotters of the November 26-28, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

What upset New Delhi is Islamabad’s failure to act on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request to his Pakistani counterpart M Nawaz Sharif to expeditiously bring the 26/11 plotters to justice.

Sharif attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new BJP-led NDA government at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on May 26 following an invitation from Modi. The two prime ministers also had a meeting on May 27, when Modi told Sharif that Islamabad should expedite the trial of the 26/11 plotters to create a conducive atmosphere for resumption of bilateral engagement.

With Sharif telling Modi that he too was keen to work with his new counterpart “to turn a new page” in the complex relations between the two neighbours, New Delhi expected that he would make a beginning by speeding up the 26/11 trial.

It was a rude shock to the Modi government when the trial of the seven LeT operatives in the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi was adjourned just a day after the two prime ministers met in New Delhi.

The prosecution lawyers, appointed by the Pakistan government, did not appear in court for a pre-scheduled hearing in the case on May 27, citing intimidation by the activists of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD)—a front organisation of the LeT—and the government’s failure to provide security. 

The judge had to adjourn the hearing. The same was repeated on June 4, June 18, July 2 and July 9. The hearing could not take place on July 16 and July 23, as the judge Attiquer Rehman went on a summer vacation. The hearing has now been postponed to September 3.

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