Pakistan asks for more evidence in trial against 26/11 plotters

Pakistan asks for more evidence in trial against 26/11 plotters

Three days after the much-hyped thaw in India-Pakistan relations, Islamabad on Monday threw a spanner in the works, stating that it cannot bring the 26/11 terror plotters to justice unless New Delhi provides more evidence.

This prompted India to underscore that “99 per cent of evidence” in connection with the case are “in Pakistan”.

Just three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart M Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit at Ufa in Russia, Islamabad also returned to its oft-repeated rhetoric on Kashmir.

“Pakistan will continue extending its moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for self-determination as provided for in the United Nations Charter and universal declaration of human rights,” said Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi Abdul Basit, justifying his invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders for Eid Milan at the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi on July 21 — yet another move likely to irk India.

The Modi government had, a year ago, called off a foreign secretary-level bilateral meeting after Basit invited the separatists for a consultation ahead of the parleys.

In Islamabad, Sharif’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz on Monday told journalists that Pakistan needed “more information and evidence” from India “to conclude the trial” of the seven Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives in connection with the November 26-28, 2008, terror attacks in Mumbai.

New Delhi has for long blamed Islamabad for the tardy progress of the trial of the 26/11 terror plotters, who were arrested in Pakistan in 2009.

What added to New Delhi’s disappointment was that LeT commander and alleged mastermind of the attack, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, was released on bail this April.

The Modi-Sharif meeting at Ufa on Friday saw India and Pakistan agreeing to “discuss ways and means to expedite” the trial. They also agreed that these “ways and means” would include “additional information like providing voice samples”. Officials in New Delhi sought to project it as a breakthrough, as India has long been asking for voice samples of the LeT operatives incarcerated in Pakistan to match them with intercepts of the conversation the 10 LeT terrorists had with their handlers in Karachi during the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan has been dilly-dallying on the request for years.
Islamabad on Monday sought to give a different interpretation to the reference to the trial in the Modi-Sharif joint statement. “We need more information and evidence to conclude the trial. The reference to 'additional information’ is recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial,” Aziz was quoted as saying by PTI in a report from Islamabad.

Officials in New Delhi, however, pointed out that 99 per cent of the evidence in 26/11 cases were in Pakistan, as not only had the attack been planned in and financed by the neighbouring country, but the terrorists who had carried it out were its citizens and trained there. New Delhi claimed it had provided Islamabad with all the evidence its agencies had gathered.

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