Lahore: A Pakistani judicial commission
on Wednesday left for India to collect evidence and question
officials as part of efforts to prosecute LeT commander Zakiur
Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects charged with involvement
in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The eight-member commission, which is headed by special
prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, flew from Lahore to Delhi,
where they will be briefed by senior officials before
travelling to Mumbai.
Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar, a member of the panel, told
reporters at the Lahore airport that the commission had no
powers to conduct an investigation or inquiry and would only
collect evidence and question Indian officials on behalf of
the Pakistani anti-terrorism court that is conducting the
trial of the seven suspects.
"We are not investigating. We are going there to collect
evidence from the witnesses there, including the chief
investigation officer, a metropolitan magistrate who recorded
(lone surviving attacker) Ajmal Kasab`s confession and two
doctors who conducted the post-mortem of those killed in the
incident," Azhar said.
"There is no inquiry it is the collection of evidence
on behalf of the trial court in Pakistan. At the request of
the Pakistan government, the Chief Justice of the Bombay High
Court has set up a special court and we have to conclude our
work during March 14-22," he said.
The commission includes Azad Khan, a Deputy Director of
the Federal Investigation Agency, a representative of the
anti-terrorism court who is taking records of the trial, and
four defence lawyers.
The panel expects to complete its work in four to five
days, Azhar said.
He contended that Pakistan had not received "all the
evidence we had sought from India" though the Indian
authorities had agreed to make "four witnesses available whom
we will examine".
Pakistan had asked India to hand over Kasab for trial but
"they said we have no agreement with you and we can`t give him
to you", he said.
Asked if the commission`s visit would lead to similar
cooperation between the two countries, Azhar said Pakistan was
fully cooperating with India to control terrorism and expected
India to "proceed against the culprits who burnt the Samjhauta
The anti-terrorism court is conducting the trial of seven
suspects, including Lakhvi, who have been charged with
planning, financing and executing the terror attacks in Mumbai
that killed 166 people in November 2008.
Malik Rafique, one of the defence lawyers, decided not to
travel to India with the commission. He cited security
concerns as the reason for his decision.
The commission can only record the statements of the
Indian officials and it cannot conduct any cross-examination,
Indian officials said.
The trial of the seven Pakistani suspects has stalled due
to various technical issues for the past year.
Pakistani prosecutors have said the commission`s visit to
India is necessary to take forward the trial.