26/11 attack probe: Pak panel to examine witnesses
A Pakistani judicial commission on Saturday left for India to cross-examine key witnesses in the Mumbai attacks case to take forward the prosecution of seven suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
The eight-member commission crossed into India through the Wagah land border.
Speaking to reporters before their departure, special public prosecutor Chaudhury Mohammed Azhar said, ‘We will cross-examine the witnesses and will file our report before the court here after coming back.’ The commission had sought visas for four to five days, and the Indian high commission here issued them seven-day visas valid for Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Amritsar.
The panel’s second visit to India has been delayed thrice this month. It was earlier scheduled to leave for India on 11 September but the trip was postponed because of the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
India initially asked the commission to visit in early September but it could not leave due to the cancellation of a Pakistan International Airlines flight.
The next date fixed was 7 September, but the visit was again cancelled due to the non-availability of a flight.
The new date fixed after this was 11 September but India informed the Pakistani side that courts in Mumbai would be closed for Ganesh Chaturthi. The visit to India to cross-examine witnesses is being undertaken to take forward the prosecution of seven suspects, including Lakhvi, who have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008.
The witnesses are the magistrate who recorded Lashkar-e-Taiba member Ajmal Kasab’s confession, the chief investigating officer and two doctors who conducted the autopsy of the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks.
A report submitted by the panel after its first visit in March 2012 was rejected by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court as the commission’s members were not allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
The Mumbai case trial in Pakistan was a subject of discussion during recent talks between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Sartaj Aziz, the top foreign policy aide of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.