Islamabad: The trial of seven suspects
accused of involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks was today
adjourned for a week apparently due to concerns among
Pakistani authorities that any adverse developments in the
proceedings could impact ongoing talks with India.
When lawyers defending the suspects, including
Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, reached Adiala
Jail in Rawalpindi, where the trial is being conducted, they
were informed that Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan was on
The lawyers were also informed that the case had been
adjourned for a week and the next hearing was scheduled for
However, sources told that a decision was made
last night by authorities to put off the hearing scheduled for
today in view of Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram`s visit to
Islamabad to attend a SAARC meeting and to hold talks with his
Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik.
The authorities were concerned that any sort of
adverse development during proceedings in the trial could cast
a shadow on the re-engagement process between India and
Pakistan and thus decided to get the hearing adjourned for a
week, the sources said.
Shahbaz Rajput, a lawyer defending some of the
accused, protested the adjournment of the trial, saying:
"These are all part of delaying tactics being adopted by the
Rajput also noted that the government is yet to
appoint a replacement for Special Public Prosecutor Malik Rab
Nawaz Noon, who died of a sudden heart attack recently.
"Such matters affect the proceedings in court and
affect the interests of my clients," he said.
Indian sources have said they are not "not satisfied"
with the progress in the trial of the seven suspects and it is
understood that Chidambaram too raised this issue with his
Pakistani counterpart during their talks last night.
Chidambaram is believed to have pressed for stronger
action by Pakistan to bring to justice all planners,
financiers and handlers of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai.
Since the trial began last year, it has been mired in
controversy and protracted delays over procedural reasons.
The judge has been changed twice and Lakhvi`s counsel
has filed at least seven petitions seeking his acquittal,
challenging the case prepared by the prosecution team and
asking for the transfer of the trial to another court.