India responds to Pakistan’s Mumbai queries, wants credible action (Roundup)

March 13th, 2009 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) India Friday handed over to Pakistan answers to 30 questions it had posed on Mumbai’s “horrific terror attacks” and hoped that this step will lead to “credible action” by Islamabad against the perpetrators of the carnage and the “terrorist infrastructure” in that country.
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik and formally handed over New Delhi’s replies to Islamabad’s 30 questions over the Mumbai attacks after it admitted that the attacks were staged from its soil.

“It will enable us to carry the invetigation forward. I will pass it on to Islamabad,” Malik told reporters after receving the replies, which, together with detailed annexures, run into hundreds of pages.

Home Minister P. Chidamabaram, who passed on the replies to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee before they were handed over to the Pakistani envoy, underlined that New Delhi’s answers were “comprehensive” and were supported by documentary evidence that included copies of CD and forensic analysis reports of the accused.

“Pakistan had asked for these answers before March 16. We have given them much before that,” Mukherjee told reporters.

“It answers every question. Answers have been supported by documentary evidence,” Chidamabaram told reporters.

“Anybody who is serious about investigating the origins of the Mumbai attacks will find that there is enough material to take the investigation forward,” Chidamabaram said.

“If Pakistan is serious about investigating these horrific crimes committed in Mumbai, these answers provide a solid basis,” Chidamabaram stressed.

“We expect Pakistan to take the investigation forward, apprehend all the cuplrits and either hand them to Indian over to India for prosecution and punishment or to punish and prosecute them in Pakistan,” he said.

The answers, according to government sources, include details of fingerprints of terrorists, their intercepted phone conversations with their handlers, GPS data and travel logs of the terrorists, autopsy reports of the terroists killed in the incident, digital diaries of terrorists and the digital map recovered from the GPS set abandoned on MV Kuber, on which the 10 terrorists had sailed to the Mumbai coast.

The DNA profiles of lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists killed by Indian security forces in November last year have also been passed over to Pakistan. The DNA imprints are surefire proof of the alleged complicity of Pakistani nationals in the Mumbai attacks.

With political instability sharpening in Pakistan, India is hopeful that Islamabad will now take “credible action” against perpetrators of the Mumbai atrocity, but is concerned about the ability of a weakening civilian government in the neighbouring country to bring the culprits to justice.

“It is our hope and expectation that this step will lead to bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and to credible action by government of Pakistan against the infrastructure of terrorism in that country,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters in response to a question.

But underneath these expectations lie undercurrents of anxiety about the capacity of a weakening civliian government in Pakistan to take action against the Mumbai terrorists, which is sure to be opposed by hawks in the establishment.

The political climate in Pakistan became volatile after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari sacked the government of then Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif following the Supreme Court’s disqualification of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother over old charges of corruption.

Defying a government ban, Sharif’s supporters have joined protesting lawyers in their ‘long march’ to Islamabad to demand the reinstatement of deposed Supreme Court Chief

Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and other judges.

The strains in relations between the powerful army and the civlian government in Pakistan and the political standoff between Zardari and Sharif has also fueleld reports about about a possible military coup in that country.

“With President Asif Ali Zardari’s erosion, there is not much we can expect from Pakistan,” G. Parthasarathy, India’s former envoy to Pakistan, told IANS.

“Let’s not forget that till the end Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was in denial model and he sacked national security adviser for speaking the truth about Ajmal Kasab’s Pakistani identity,” he said.

“Whether it’s a weakened civilian government or not, it’s the Paksitani military establishment that calls the shots on India-related issues,” Satish Chandra, India’s former high commisioner to Pakistan and a former deputy national security adviser, told IANS.

“We are going to see more of prevarication and equivocation,” Chandra said. “On India-related issues, Pakistan will remain as instrasigent as before,” Chandra stressed.

“We are watching these developments with concern. With all this political turmoil going on in Pakistan, we expect swift action, but the process may be slow,” reliable government sources told IANS.

“There is no guarantee that they will not ask another 30 questions. One is not sure when this equivocation will stop,” he said.

Concerned with political turmoil in Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday reviewed the developments in Pakistan at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

With this as a backdrop, Mukherjee Thursday underlined the need for “strong and stable regimes” in the neighbourhhod.

On Feb 12, Paksitan admitted that a part of the Mumbai conspiracy was planned on its territory. The Federal Iinvestigative Agency has charged eight men with the assault. Of them, six have been arrested, one is still at large while the eighth is Kasab.

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