India wants 26/11 probe team to visit Pakistan first
New Delhi: A judicial commission from Pakistan probing the Mumbai terror attacks may not be permitted to visit India, unless an investigation team from India gets to visit the neighbouring country first to examine the need for a trip by the Pakistani panel.
India's home ministry officials here said that they want to send a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, which is probing the 26/11 strike, to Pakistan to examine material evidence against key masterminds and accused in the 2008 attacks that claimed over 160 lives, including that of foreign nationals.
Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi and his six other accomplices are facing trial in Pakistan in a Rawalpindi court in connection with the Mumbai attacks.
India's Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had raised the issue of the NIA team's visit during his meeting with his counterpart Rehman Malik on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Region Cooperation (SAARC) ministerial meeting in the Maldives in September.
"Unless the NIA team is allowed to visit Pakistan and understand the necessity of the second visit of the Pakistani judicial commission to India, it is difficult for us to say anything now," an official said when queried if the panel's visit was possible anytime soon.
The NIA team also wants to meet with the witnesses in the case.
An eight-member Pakistani judicial commission had visited India in March this year following a bilateral agreement.
The panel, which included prosecutors and defence lawyers, visited Mumbai and interviewed a judge who recorded the statement of terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab during the Mumbai attacks trial, a senior police official and two doctors who conducted the autopsies on the terrorists' bodies involved in the attacks and their victims.
Officials said India would like to know as to why the Pakistani court refused to go by global convention of accepting bilateral treaties between nations on issues relating to terrorism, in particular the evidence collected by its own judicial commission.
The Rawalpindi court had rejected the materials collected by the panel as not having any "evidential value" to punish those being tried for the Mumbai attacks after lawyers defending the accused opposed its admission as evidence.
Following the development, Pakistan wanted India to allow its judicial commission to visit Mumbai once again - this time to ensure the evidences collected by it conform to Pakistani court's expectations.
The Mumbai carnage of Nov 26, 2008 was carried out by 10 Pakistani terrorists and it had left 166 people dead. Nine of the terrorists were killed by Indian security forces, while the tenth, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was nabbed.
After a Mumbai court held him guilty in the attacks case, Kasab is now lodged in a Mumbai prison facing death sentence.