India voices concern over Mumbai siege trial delays

Pakistan raises the issue of Samjhauta Express investigations during Indian deputy high commissioners visit to FO.

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: Barely 48 hours after Pakistan and India agreed to resume their stalled peace talks, New Delhi on Friday voiced concerns over what it calls ‘repeated delays’ in the trial of seven men accused 

of being behind the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In a coordinated action, Indian officials asked Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in Delhi to come to the South Block where he was told of India’s concerns over the delay in the trial, confirmed an official, who asked not to be identified.

At the same time, the Indian deputy high commissioner in Pakistan went to the foreign office in Islamabad at his own request, to meet with South Asia and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (SA & SAARC) director general to lodge a similar protest.

But during the Indian deputy high commissioner’s visit to the foreign office, Pakistan took the opportunity of raising the issue of Samjhauta Express investigations.

According to a statement issued by foreign office, the SA & SAARC director general told the Indian diplomat that it was necessary that the outcome of these investigations be shared with Pakistan at the earliest.

During the meeting, the Indian diplomat inquired about the progress being made in the Mumbai trial. The director general stated that the trial was taking its legal course and efforts were being made for its early conclusion.

Informed sources said Indian officials, in their meetings with Pakistani officials both in New Delhi and Islamabad, have sought regular briefing on the progress of the trial and the investigation being conducted by Pakistani authorities.

“We asked them to ensure a mechanism whereby Indian diplomats in their country get regular briefings about the Mumbai terror trial and related investigations,” an Indian foreign ministry official told AFP.

The trial, which began in 2012 and is being conducted by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court, was adjourned for the seventh time on Wednesday, according to the Press Trust of India.

India blames the three-day rampage in November 2008 on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The attacks killed 166 people and further strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The seven Pakistani suspects – the LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Anjum – have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks in India’s financial capital.

The summoning of the Pakistani diplomat came days after the Indian foreign ministry said the foreign secretaries of both countries would meet in Islamabad on August 25.

In a surprise move in May, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and leaders of other Saarc nations for his swearing-in ceremony

Modi’s gesture spurred hopes of a resumption of peace talks between the neighbouring states, whose relations have remained chilly since the terror attacks.

In 2012, India executed the sole surviving gunman, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, one of the 10 alleged attackers. Kasab, who was 25 at the time of his execution, first pleaded not guilty at his trial but later allegedly confessed he was one of the gunmen sent by the LeT.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.


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