26/11: Pak plans to send 2nd judicial panel to India
Islamabad: Pakistan plans to send a second judicial commission to India to cross-examine key witnesses in the Mumbai attack case to speed up the prosecution of seven Pakistani suspects, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday.
Malik said the Pakistan government had requested its Indian counterpart to allow a second commission to visit Mumbai and was awaiting a response.
"Once the commission is allowed to visit and cross-examine the witnesses, we can accelerate the prosecution of the suspects here," he said.
"I am sure the permission is going to come and it is not going to be stopped because we want this trial to be on the fast track. Those who have done this heinous crime should be brought to justice," he said.
Responding to India's criticism of tardy progress in the trial of the seven accused, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Malik said: "It is not a slow process, it is a legal process."
The report of the first judicial commission that was sent to Mumbai to investigate the incident in March was rejected by the anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of the seven suspects as the members of the panel were not allowed to cross-examine Indian witnesses.
Malik said the first judicial commission was treated very well and facilitated during its work in Mumbai.
The time had come for India and Pakistan to "bury the past" and to end the "blame game", he said.
He contended that Pakistan too could raise the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express train and demand action against those who had killed nearly 70 people, a majority of them Pakistanis.
At the same time, Malik contended that Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan should not be linked to the prosecution of the Mumbai attacks suspects.
Malik claimed that "non-state actors" were responsible for the Mumbai attacks and all loss of life in terrorist incidents in both countries caused a lot of misery.
In this regard, he referred to the role of Pakistan-American terror suspect David Headley and Abu Jandal, recently arrested from Saudi Arabia, and said there was a need for information-sharing to prevent such attacks in future.
The trial of the seven Pakistani suspects in the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi has stalled for over a year due to various technical problems.
The judge has been changed five times and only a handful of the over 160 prosecution witnesses have testified so far.
Prime Minister Singh has said that the speedy conclusion of the trial will be a crucial test for bilateral relation and create the ground for his possible visit to Pakistan.