Pakistan seeks Kasab’s custody, India for credible action (Roundup)

February 18th, 2009 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 18 (IANS) Ruling out war as an option, India Wednesday asked Pakistan to take “credible and verifiable action” on the Mumbai attacks, even as Islamabad sought the custody of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured during the mayhem, for the trial of other terror strike suspects in its territory.
India was quick to react, with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee saying in New Delhi: “Let me get the official request, then I will respond”.

Speaking in Islamabad, Deputy Attorney General Mohammad Ghazi said: “The government of Pakistan has formally requested the Indian government to hand over the custody of Ajmal Kasab because he is the prime suspect and the rest of these suspects, they are abettors, they abetted the crime.”

“I am sure the Indian government is going to look into it, they are going to take a decision because without having the custody of Ajmal Kasab in Pakistan, I think it will be very, very difficult to prosecute the rest of the suspects,” Ghazi, who has been named the special public prosecutor in the case, added.

Nearly a week after Pakistan acknowledged the role of its citizens in the Mumbai terror spree, Mukherjee Wednesday told the Lok Sabha that “diplomacy has prevailed” over military options and again reminded Pakistan of taking “verifiable and credible action” against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

“Diplomacy has not failed. Diplomacy has prevailed,” Mukherjee said in the government’s reply to President Pratibha Patil’s address to joint session of the parliament.

“We did not mobilize a single soldier. We did not press the panic button,” Mukherjee pointed out.

He was referring to charges of war-mongering levelled by Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks and demands from some sections in India about using military option to punish Pakistan.

Mukherjee stressed that there was no question of launching any retaliatory military strikes against Pakistan even though many political parties have suggested the government do so after the Mumbai attacks.

The government is opposed to such action even though some countries are exercising the option, the minister said in an apparent reference to Israel’s recent military assault on the Gaza strip.

Even under the greatest provocation India values human rights, Mukherjee added.

Stressing on the need for “verifiable and credible action” by Islamabad against the perpetrators of the Mumbai atrocity, Mukherjee said: “We will continue to demand that from Pakistan.”

The pressure will continue until there’s any verifiable action from Islamabad to dismantle terror infrastructure, he added.

Pakistan Feb 12 admitted that part of the Mumbai conspiracy was hatched and planned in its territory and arrested six nationals after an internal probe. India had welcomed this as a “positive development” but reminded Pakistan to do more to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

Official sources in New Delhi saw Pakistan’s demand as “yet another diversionary tactic” and said India was yet to receive any formal request.

“Instead of their handing over fugitives, suspected in various terrorist activities in India including the Mumbai attacks, they are asking us to do us,” the sources said. New Delhi sees the demand as yet another diversionary tactic.

Ghazi, however, stressed that the handing over of Kasab was essential to conducting the trial successfully.

Pakistani authorities have arrested six suspects, including Lashker-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and its communication expert Zarar Shah.

India also underlined the dangers of the peace deal between the Pakistani government and the Taliban and described the hardline Islamist militia that has succeeded in formally imposing sharia in the Swat Valley as “a threat to humanity”.

Reacting sharply to the deal, Mukherjee said: “The Taliban is a terrorist organisation. Taliban believes in nothing but destruction and violence.”

Pakistan has sent a hardline cleric to the Swat Valley to negotiate with the Taliban. The cleric is pressing militants to give up their arms to honour a pact that imposes Islamic law and suspends a military offensive in Swat and nearby areas.

“The Taliban are a danger to humanity and civilisation,” Mukherjee stressed. India is concerned that the deal with the Taliban, widely seen as a concession to militants, will provide a safe haven to militants that can pose a threat to India’s security.

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