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26/11: Pak demands more 'substantial evidence' from India

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
February 09, 2009 21:01 IST
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Continuing its dilly-dallying on its response to the dossier demanding handing over of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan on Monday said it needs more information from India to complete its investigations, before giving a reply.

Contrary to the hype surrounding a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which was expected to finalise Pakistan's reply, the government failed to give a clear picture on the findings of its probe, even as media reports spoke of the arrests of three men in Karachi for their alleged links to captured Mumbai terrorist Amir Ajmal Kasab.

The Committee decided that a "case should be registered and further investigation be carried out so that the perpetrators, wherever they may be, of the heinous crime are brought to justice in accordance with the law of the land," an official statement issued after the meeting presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

It, however, observed that "without substantial evidence from India it will be exceedingly difficult to complete the investigation and proceed with the case."

"In order to complete the investigation, the questions which are arising from the inquiry carried out by the Federal Investigation Agency need to be answered by the Indian authorities," the statement said. "These will be communicated to the Indian authorities shortly," it said.

The meeting, attended by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and senior military and intelligence officials, reviewed the report of the FIA's preliminary probe into the Mumbai attacks.

There was no official word on when the findings of Pakistan's probe would be shared with the Indian government. There was also no mention in the official statement on the exact findings of the investigation by the FIA.

India had handed over an information dossier on the Mumbai attacks to Pakistan on January 5. The FIA last week handed over its report on the dossier to the interior ministry. Subsequent reports in the Pakistani media said the FIA's investigators had found a Bangladeshi connection to the planning of the attacks.

The reports also said that the attacks were apparently planned in a European country. The Daily Times newspaper, quoting a source, today reported that "the intelligence agencies had taken three men into custody from different parts of Karachi because of their alleged affiliation with Kasab."

The men were "reportedly taken to Islamabad and an investigation was in progress", the newspaper said. The Geo News channel on Sunday reported that cases would be filed against five Pakistanis, including Kasab, for planning the Mumbai attacks.

Action will be taken against them in the country according to Pakistani laws and access to Kasab will be sought, it had said, citing sources.

"The intelligence agencies had taken the three men into custody from different parts of Karachi because of their alleged affiliations with Kasab," the Daily Times newspaper quoted a source as saying.

"The men were reportedly taken to Islamabad and an investigation was in progress", the newspaper reported. The Defence Committee claimed that the FIA's inquiry had been conducted professionally and endorsed the recommendations of the interior ministry to proceed with the registration of the case", the statement said.

The Committee also discussed the security situation in Pakistan, particularly in the troubled Swat valley and the tribal areas.

"The security agencies were directed to clear the area of militants while ensuring safety of the locals," the statement said. The meeting was also attended by Information Minister Sherry Rehman, Law Minister Farooq Naek, interior ministry chief Rehman Malik, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid and Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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