Pakistan won’t hand over Mumbai suspects: Minister (Lead)

December 9th, 2008 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 9 (IANS) Pakistan will not hand over to India any of the suspects in the Mumbai terror attacks but would try them under its own laws, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday.”The arrests are being made for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect, he will not be handed over to India,” Qureshi said in Multan, commenting on the arrest of Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that India has blamed for the Mumbai attacks.

“We will proceed against those arrested under Pakistani laws,” Qureshi added.

According to reports, Lakhwi was among the at least 15 people detained in the last two days after raids on a camp run by the banned LeT in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Following the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani security forces also sealed a camp of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JD), as the LeT is widely believed to have been renamed after it was proscribed, in the Shawai Nullah neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

Another senior Pakistani government official said there was no chance of handing over Lakhwi to India.

“Yes, he was arrested and would be tried if India provides evidence against him,” the official said.

Also on Tuesday, the JD said that none of their offices in Pakistan had been raided.

“We are working under Pakistani laws and have never indulged in any terrorist or unlawful activities,” JD spokesperson Abdullah Muntizar told IANS, commenting on reports about countrywide raids on LeT offices and camps.

He said he had no information about any arrests. “What I know is what has appeared in media,” Muntizar said, adding that the media was confusing the LeT with the JD.

According to him, military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas had made it clear that the operation was against outlawed organisations whereas the JD was registered “and working under the law for promotion of education and welfare work”.

In a statement issued late Monday, the military spokesperson said in a statement that an operation to target militant organisations had started in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai.

“The military confirms an operation of law enforcement is underway,” it said, adding that there had been arrests and investigations were underway.

In 2002, the LeT, the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and three other organisations were banned by the government after US pressure to close their offices in Pakistan.

On Monday, Pakistani authorities placed restrictions on the movement of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, who New Delhi accuses of masterminding the Dec 1999 hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar.

India has blamed organisations based in Pakistan for last month’s devastating assault on its financial capital, and there has been growing pressure on the government here to act against groups suspected of being involved.

On Monday, Pakistan also rejected India’s demand to extradite three fugitives — Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Maulana Masood Azhar - and urged it to share evidence proving that elements from this country territory had carried out the recent attacks in Mumbai.

While Dawood Ibrahim and Memon are Indian citizens, Azhar is a Pakistani.

A report in Dawn daily said that this was communicated to India in a demarche from Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal in response to New Delhi’s second demarche that had listed actions it wanted Islamabad to take.

The paper said that India had been told that of the three fugitives, Pakistan didn’t know the whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim and Memon — men who allegedly masterminded the devastating Mumbai bombings in 1993.

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