Days after Pakistan agreed to expedite 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial, Islamabad has gone back to its old position of oscillation on the issue.
Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan needs more information to take the Mumbai terror attacks trial forward.
“We need more evidence and information to expedite the trial,” Aziz said. He was quick to add that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also raised the Samjhauta blast case during talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and sought details on the progress in the case.
An agreement on accelerating the trial against seven accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, including mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, was one of the biggest takeaways of the talks. Since then, Lakhvi’s lawyer has said that he will not give his voice sample, which India says will establish his role in the attack.
Mr Aziz said: “On Mumbai trial case, our view has been, and was so in this meeting as well, that we need more evidence and information to conclude the trial. The reference to ‘additional information’ is recognition of the need that more information is needed to expedite the trial.”
Members of the ruling BJP said the top Pakistani official’s words are aimed at blunting domestic criticism over the absence of “Kashmir” in the joint statement that was issued after the talks.
“Sharif raised concerns on all issues (With Modi), including India’s alleged interference in the internal matters of Pakistan, particularly its continuing support for insurgency in Balochistan,” said Mr Aziz.
He added that the Pakistani PM had also asked for details of the Samjhauta train blast investigation. He said “We will continue to extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren. For Pakistan, Kashmir of course tops the list of outstanding issues with India.”
Prosecution team’s chief Chaudhry Azhar said that four years ago, a Rawalpindi court, handling the Mumbai terror attack case, had dismissed an application for obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi on the ground that no such law exists in the country that allows obtaining of voice sample of an accused.
Azhar said that the Pakistan government will not file a fresh petition in the anti-terrorism court requesting for obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi in the 26/11 case. Lakhvi is presently out of bail due to lack of evidence.
Lakhvi’s lawyer Rizwan Abbasi too said his client cannot be forced to give a voice sample as it is against the Constitution of Pakistan. “There is no as such law in Pakistan which can force anyone to submit voice sample. If my client wishes he will not submit sample of voice,” said Abbasi.
The Congress said it was apparent that the talks on Friday were no breakthrough. “Those who were calling it that should be surprised,” said Congress leader Ajay Maken.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Ufffff, Ufa is already unraveling. That was quick even by Indo-Pak standards.”