Islamabad: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of seven men charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks on Saturday issued summons to a senior investigator even as six prosecution witnesses failed to appear before the judge.
Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, who is conducting the trial behind closed doors at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons, issued the summons for Altaf Hussain, a Karachi-based Additional Director of the Federal Investigation Agency.
Prosecutors described Hussain as an "important witness" in the case against the seven accused, including Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
He was directed to appear in court at the next hearing on April 13.
"FIA Additional Director Altaf Hussain had conducted a thorough investigation into the attacks," chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali told a news agency after the hearing.
Ali said six private witnesses, who were scheduled to appear in court to testify against the accused, could not reach Rawalpindi because of the "law and order situation in Karachi".
All six witnesses are residents of Karachi.
He further said Pakistani authorities were still awaiting a response from India regarding a Pakistani judicial commission`s visit to Mumbai to interview four key witnesses.
"We have received no reply from India so far," Ali said.
At the last hearing on March 30, the court had issued summons to the six private witnesses for selling a boat, an engine and other related equipment to the accused.
The Pakistani judicial commission`s visit to India has already been delayed by several weeks over the issue of Islamabad seeking an assurance that members of the panel will be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
The commission is set to make a second visit to Mumbai to record the statements of the witnesses because the anti-terrorism court had rejected a report submitted after its first visit on the ground that the panel was not allowed to conduct cross-examination.
The trial of the seven suspects has progressed at a snail`s pace due to repeated adjournments and various technical delays.
They have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008.