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Pak says 'no' to handing over terror suspects to India

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
December 09, 2008 12:58 IST
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Pakistan on Tuesday said any of its citizens found to be linked to the Mumbai terror attacks will not be handed over to India, but tried under the country's own laws.

"The arrests being made are for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect he will not be handed over to India," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in Islamabad.

Qureshi's remarks came as the Pakistani army confirmed that some key Lashkar e Tayiba terrorists had been rounded up during the crackdown on the banned organisation's camps on the outskirts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir's capital, Muzaffarabad.

The military spokesman had said operations against the banned groups would continue and more arrests are expected.

Qureshi told reporters after offering Eid prayers in his hometown of Multan that though Pakistan will fully cooperate with India in investigating the Mumbai attacks, any Pakistani individual found to be linked or involved in the incident will be tried only in a Pakistani court.

If necessary, he said, he would visit India to clarify Islamabad's position to New Delhi.

His comments echoed a decision made by the cabinet yesterday to take action against any persons or groups involved in the Mumbai attacks only "within the ambit of Pakistani law".

The meeting of the defence committee of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, also pledged to act on all information provided by India regarding the attacks. It also renewed Pakistan's offer to cooperate in probing the incident by setting up a joint investigative commission.

India and the US have said Pakistan-based elements were responsible for planning and carrying out the attacks.

Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, reportedly detained during a crackdown launched by Pakistani troops on Sunday, is suspected to be the mastermind of the November 26 Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan has also rejected India's demand to hand over Jaish e Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar and two India underworld dons involved in the 1993 Bombay blasts, Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon.

Masood, who was released in Kandahar in exchange for the hijacked Indian airlines passengers in 1999, has reportedly been placed under restrictions in his hometown of Bahawalpur.

India had demanded that the three be handed over in the wake of the Mumbai attacks that killed over 180 people.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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