Pakistan briefs envoy to India on Mumbai probe; could charge 125


Islamabad/New Delhi : Pakistan Tuesday briefed its envoy to New Delhi on its probe into the Mumbai carnage amid reports that it could charge 125 lower-rung suspects but let the top guns off.

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On its part, India reiterated that it was yet to officially hear from Islamabad on its Mumbai probe – and that Pakistan was the “epicentre” of global terrorism.

Envoy to India Shahid Malik “was called to Islamabad for holding important consultation with the officials of the foreign and interior ministries in connection with the Mumbai attacks,” The News said Tuesday, quoting foreign office sources.

“Pakistan raised certain questions before Indian officials in connection with Mumbai attacks and now the Indian government has provided answers to the same,” it added.

Malik was called to Islamabad for “reviewing the Indian replies and holding consultation”, The News said, adding: “The documents that Pakistan would prepare in the light of the Indian information would be handed over to Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Satyaprata Pal.”

India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai mayhem that claimed the lives of more than 170 people, including 26 foreign nationals, and left more than 300 injured.

India Jan 5 submitted a detailed dossier to Pakistan pointing to the involvement of elements from that country in the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday the Federal Investigation Agency has examined the dossier and has submitted a report that would soon be shared with India through diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, ABC News reported that Pakistan could prosecute as many as 125 people for their alleged role in the Mumbai terror attacks – but none of the top suspects India has named figures in the list.

The group, including “anyone who made any suspicious contacts inside India as the attacks began”, would be charged under Pakistan’s cyber crimes laws because the suspects used Internet phones to communicate, ABC News quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying.

“But few if any of the major terrorist leaders India is asking Pakistan to prosecute are included on this list,” the official said.

ABC News said this reflected the delicate balance Pakistan was trying to achieve: “Appeasing international pressure to crack down on terrorists who have operated from its soil, and at the same time not completely dismantling groups that the intelligence agencies still see as assets.”

On Tuesday, India termed Pakistan the “epicentre” of global terrorism and urged it to act with “sincerity and decisiveness” against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

“Pakistan has become the epicentre of international terrorism,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared in New Delhi while inaugurating the 11th Asian Security Conference.

Noting that the positive gains of the past few years had been “destroyed” by the “dastardly” Mumbai attack, the minister said: “That major attacks of large magnitude can be planned and executed by elements in Pakistan totally undermines the solemn commitments to us made by its leadership that territory in its control would not be permitted to be used for terrorism.”

Addressing the Indian parliament in December 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Pakistan “the epicentre of terrorism” and said the international community must deal with the problem.

“We have to galvanise the international community to deal with the epicentre of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan,” Singh said.

Also on Tuesday, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee differed sharply with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan’s comments on Islamabad’s attitude towards the Mumbai terror probe and underlined that India was yet to receive any official response from Pakistan.

“That he (Narayanan) has stated in his own way. But the fact of the matter is that after they (Pakistan) received material from us, we have not received any official communication (about the probe) from them,” Mukherjee told reporters In New Delhi when asked about Narayanan’s comments in a TV interview.

In an interview to CNN-IBN Sunday, Narayanan had said that Pakistan “appeared to be taking things seriously and at least they are proceeding in a manner that one would expect an investigating agency to proceed, asking queries and not taking everything that is given at the face value that has been given.”

Narayanan also claimed that Pakistan had reverted on the Mumbai attacks dossier, asking questions to which answers were being given.

“What I am aware of is that after the receipt of the dossier by Pakistan, the Pakistan government has reverted to us and asked number of questions to which answers are being provided…. I presume they are yet to receive replies to the second set of queries they have made,” the NSA had said.

In fact, Mukherjee had contradicted Narayanan’s remarks on Sunday itself when he underscored India’s mounting anger with Pakistan for not responding to 26/11 dossier through proper diplomatic channels.