Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday claimed that the trial of LeT operatives arrested for involvement in the Mumbai attacks would be completed within four months, even as it sought more time to examine the evidence provided by India against the terrorist group`s founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
Refuting the contention of Indian leaders like Home Minister P Chidambaram that there had been no progress in Pakistan in bringing to justice the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, "I challenge you and say the trial (of the suspects) has started."
"After (the festival of) Eid, day-to-day hearings will be held and proceedings will be completed within the prescribed time limit," he said, adding it will take between two-and-half months to four months for the trial to be completed.
Five LeT operatives arrested earlier had already been chargesheeted while charges against two newly-arrested suspects will be filed soon, he told reporters.
Malik said Pakistan has already acknowledged that "part of the conspiracy" behind the Mumbai attacks was hatched by "non-state actors in Pakistan”.
"Don`t suspect our motives," he said, adding that LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, described by India as the mastermind of the attacks, had been arrested along with several aides.
Malik said Pakistan needed more time to examine the latest Indian dossier on the Mumbai attacks which contained LeT operative Ajmal Kasab`s statements about his meetings with Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who is also the chief of outlawed JuD, and other alleged militant leaders.
"Give us an opportunity to examine what is a mere statement. Give us an opportunity to go and see the locations (Kasab) has spoken of (where he met Saeed). Let us do our verification, for which we need time," Malik said.
"We are examining your evidence. We have not said that the evidence is not good," he said.
India has been insisting that Pakistan should take action against Saeed, who was freed from nearly six months of house arrest on the orders of the Lahore High Court in June. New Delhi has said it has provided Islamabad adequate information linking Saeed to the planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks.
But Malik said any step taken against Saeed would have to stand up to scrutiny by Pakistan`s judiciary. "We have to face the court. Today he (Chidambaram) said that Hafiz Saeed is not being tried, no case is being prepared against him.”
"We arrested him when a UN embargo was applied but our court bailed him out. The matter is sub-judice and for god`s sake, respect our courts. We respect your courts too."
Malik took several digs at Chidambaram, who is currently visiting the US where he conveyed India`s concerns over Pakistan not taking action against the LeT and Saeed.
Malik said he would give a detailed response to Chidambaram`s allegations in a news conference to be held in the next few days.
"But I believe that he (Chidambaram) has not been given the five dossiers provided by us. If he had taken those along with him to the US, he would have done justice. There should not be any one-sided story," Malik said.
He claimed there had been no delays on the part of Pakistan in probing the Mumbai incident whereas India had responded to Pakistan`s request for a copy of Kasab`s confessional statement after months.
He also pointed to other lapses by Indian authorities, such as the same DNA samples being provided for Kasab and Ismail, another terrorist who was killed in Mumbai.
Malik renewed his demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should provide Islamabad evidence about his warning that plans were being made by Pakistan-based terror groups to carry out more Mumbai-like attacks.
He also said India should share information about Sabahuddin Ansari, an Indian national arrested in connection with 26/11 attacks, and the 2007 bombing of Samjhauta Express train in which a large number of Pakistanis were killed.
The Interior Minister also said "certain forces" did not want to see Pakistan and India as friends but the two countries had no option but to sit across the table and resolve their differences.
He said he would be willing to meet the Indian leadership in India or abroad to discuss the probe into the Mumbai incident.