Pakistan likely to seek consular access to Kasab (Lead)

December 28th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Benazir BhuttoIslamabad, Dec 28 (IANS) Pakistan may seek consular access to Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive in the 26/11 Mumbai attack, to determine if he is a Pakistani, officials said Sunday as the country’s ruling party decided to “play down” the war talk.The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi had received a letter from Kasab asking for legal aid.

“Yes, we will provide him legal aid if he’s a Pakistani and we are allowed consular access to him,” said the official.

He said Pakistan would ask for consular access to Kasab to determine if he’s a Pakistani as “his name is not in the list of NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority)”.

The NADRA issues national identity cards and prepares passports for Pakistani nationals and Pakistanis living abroad with dual nationality.

Another official admitted that “information” related to Kasab had been received from India through the US. “Yes, we have received information like the confession by Kasab and a record of his conversation with people in Pakistan,” said the official but added it could not be treated as “evidence” on any Pakistani’s involvement in the NOv 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Over 170 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in the attack.

The official said the people named by India in connection with the terrorist attack were either in government custody or were not living in Pakistan.

“We are ready to take action against them if strong evidence or access to the arrested people in Mumbai is provided,” said the official.

The News daily in its report Sunday said the US and Britain had shared information with Pakistan which they believe amounts to evidence of Pakistanis being involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

This evidence includes a confession by Kasab, purportedly of Faridkot in Punjab province, which was obtained by Indian officials.

“Because a confession obtained under duress is not admissible in a trial, Pakistanis argue that this statement cannot be the basis of any proceedings against Kasab or others from Pakistan,” said the report.

Several telephone intercepts and logs of telephone calls made from the mobile phones of alleged terrorists who were killed in Mumbai have also been shared with the Pakistani authorities, the report said.

The telephone numbers of several individuals arrested in Pakistan, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, reportedly also featured in the telephone call logs and intercepted phone calls.

Meanwhile, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in its central executive committee meeting Saturday decided to play down the issue and has asked all ministers to avoid making public statements on it, a senior member in the cabinet said.

“Only designated persons in the government and the Foreign Office spokesman will issue statements in this regard,” said the minister, requesting anonymity.

He said the central executive meeting, which was held on the occasion of assassinated PPP chief and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s first death anniversary, decided to take “stern action against people involved in terrorism”.

The minister, however, said the action would be taken against those who are found to be involved in terrorism and not merely on the basis of allegations. “We are interrogating the people named by India but have not received any evidence from India,” said the minister.

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