A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) delegation left for Islamabad on Wednesday to finalise the terms of reference for the visit of a Pakistan judicial commission to India that will help fast-track the ongoing 26/11 trial in the neighbouring country.
Led by Dharmendra Sharma, Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in the MHA, the three-member team is on a four-day visit. It will interact with Pakistani officials to finalise the modalities for the visit of the judicial commission that wants to cross-examine key witnesses in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks case. This will be the commission’s second visit in connection with the 26/11 probe. During its earlier visit, it had examined material evidence collected by the Indian agencies against the 26/11 accused, including the mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
Refusal to accept
However, a Rawalpindi court, which is hearing the case against seven accused, including Laskhar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, refused to accept the findings saying that the commission had failed to cross-examine the witnesses. Since then, Pakistan has been insisting that the commission be allowed to cross-examine witnesses to satisfy its courts.
India had initially refused Pakistan’s request. Now, after Mr. Malik’s visit, it has agreed. But there are two conditions — one, there will be no further visits after this and two, Pakistani law officers should certify the admissibility of the evidence collected in Pakistani courts. Mr. Malik had said that the judicial commission would visit India in the first week of January. It would be followed by the visit of India’s National Investigation Agency team to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commission here has said that it had received the official request of the Indian team on Tuesday and the formal concurrence for the visit from December 19 to 22 was promptly conveyed. “The above is in accordance with the understanding reached between the Interior and Home Ministers of Pakistan and India regarding the visit of Indian officials and the early finalisation of modalities for the visit of the Pakistani Judicial Commission to India,” the statement said.