Pakistan on Thursday said that it has put the trial of seven Mumbai attacks suspects on the fast track and any delay in proceedings is due to India’s failure to decide on a request to allow a judicial commission to interview key officials in India.
In a response to the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s remarks on Wednesday that confidence between the two countries cannot be restored till Pakistan takes action against the “real culprits” behind the Mumbai incident, Interior Minister Rehman Malik indicated that New Delhi should provide more evidence to enable Islamabad to act against other suspects.
“As far apprehending those responsible for the attacks is concerned, seven accused are in jail. Their trial is being conducted properly and we have put it on fast track,” Mr. Malik told reporters at the Karachi airport early on Thursday morning.
“The delay in that trial is not on our part because we had a demand for a judicial commission (to visit India). Our Interior Secretary met their Home Secretary and we spoke of our request for the judicial commission (and we hope) India will respond to that and allow it,” he said.
Indian and American officials have said that Pakistani authorities arrested seven persons, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, largely on the basis of information provided by India and the U.S.
However, their trial by an anti-terrorism court has been marred by a series of delays for technical reasons, diplomatic sources said.
Mr. Chidambaram said India had asked Pakistan to arrest five more suspects, including an Inter-Services Intelligence officer identified only as Major Iqbal.
This officer was allegedly the handler of Pakistani-American David Headley, who played a key role in planning and conducting surveillance for the Mumbai attacks.
Mr. Malik contended that India needs to provide more proof for Pakistan to act against individuals like Major Iqbal.
“Believe me, I don’t have an Aladdin’s lamp that if someone says I should apprehend Major Iqbal, I will be able to do it. Major Iqbal is a generic name. I had sent them 36 questions about Headley but I have not got a reply as yet,” he said.
The Interior Minister again sought to rubbish Headley’s testimony at the Chicago trial of Tahawwur Rana, another key suspect in the Mumbai incident.
He said Headley, whose father was from Pakistan, was a “double agent“.
“I think the Indian law enforcers and authorities realise in their hearts that he was and is a double agent. He makes nine visits to India, so many visits to Pakistan and Europe. Where did he get the finances from? Somebody must have been giving it,” he said.
Malik also raised India’s investigation of the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express cross-border train in which 42 Pakistanis were killed.
He contended that Indian “intelligence and forces” were behind the attack though the ISI was blamed.
“Today their own (Indian)... investigators they have proof... that the attack on the Samjhauta Express was not done by Pakistan’s ISI. I have requested that the accused should be handed over... we will ask for the accused because they killed Pakistanis,” Mr. Malik said.
“We should not get into a blame game and jointly we should think about taking action against these terrorists. I have given clear indications that the Taliban want to extend their reach to the whole region and they have made their bases in India. We have given them some indications,” he added.
Mr. Malik said he wanted to the people and authorities in India that Pakistan is “very serious” about the trial of the seven suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks “but you know how long does it takes in the given system“.
“I assure you that, under our laws, these culprits will not be spared. They will be brought to justice because we mean business and we will not allow Pakistani soil to be used by any terrorist,” he said.