Malik asks India to allow Pakistan to interview officials
* Interior minister says Pakistan has put trial of seven Mumbai attacks suspects on fast track
KARACHI: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday that Pakistan has put the trial of seven suspects of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on fast track and that any delay in proceedings is due to India’s failure to decide on a request to allow a judicial commission to interview key officials there.
In response to Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram’s Wednesday’s remarks that confidence between the two countries cannot be restored until Pakistan takes action against the “real culprits” behind the Mumbai incident, Malik indicated that New Delhi should provide more evidence to enable Islamabad to act against other suspects.
Talking to reporters at Karachi airport, the interior minister said, “As far apprehending those responsible for the (Mumbai) attacks is concerned, seven ‘accused’ are in jail and their trial is being conducted properly. We have put it on fast track.” “The delay in the trial is not on our part. We had demanded for a judicial commission (to visit India). Our interior secretary met their home secretary and we spoke of our request. (We hope) India will respond to that,” adde Malik.
Chidambaram had said that India had asked Pakistan to arrest five more suspects, including an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer identified only as Major Iqbal. But, Malik contended that India needed to provide more proof to Pakistan to act against individuals like Major Iqbal.
“Believe me, I don’t have an Aladdin’s lamp that if someone says and I would apprehend Major Iqbal. It is a generic name,” said the minister, adding, “I had sent them (India) 36 questions about David Headley. But I have not got a reply yet.” Malik rejected Headley’s testimony at the Chicago trial of Tahawwur Rana, another key suspect in the Mumbai attacks, saying he (Headley), whose father was from Pakistan, was a “double agent”. “I think Indian law authorities have realised that ‘Headley was and is a double agent’. He makes nine visits to India, so many visits to Pakistan and Europe.” “Where did he get finances from,” he questioned, and said somebody must have been financing these (visits).
Speaking about the 2007 bombing of Samjhota Express that killed 42 Pakistanis, Malik alleged that Indian intelligence and security forces were behind the attack, the blame for which was put on the ISI.
“Today their own investigators… they have proof... that the attack on the cross-border train was not done by the ISI. I have requested that the accused be handed over (to Pakistan).” “We should not get into a blame game,” Malik told India, adding that the two countries should jointly think about taking action against terrorists. “I have given clear indications that the Taliban want to extend their reach to the whole region. They (Taliban) have made their bases in India. We have given them some indications,” he added.
“Pakistan is ‘very serious’ about the trial of the seven suspects charged with having involvement in the Mumbai attacks.” “I assure you that, under our laws, these culprits will not be spared. They will be brought to justice because we mean business and we will not allow Pakistani soil to be used by any terrorist,” averred the interior minister. online