Political instability in Pakistan may slow down Mumbai justice

March 13th, 2009 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) With political instability growing in Pakistan, India is greatly concerned about the ability of a weakening civilian government in that country to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice.
“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 his national security adviser for speaking the truth about Ajmal Kasab’s Pakistani identity,” he said.

The political climate in Pakistan worsened after 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 fueled fears of a possible military coup in that country.

“Whether it’s a weakened civilian government or not, it’s the Pakistani 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 intrasigent as before,” Chandra stressed.

India Friday handed over to Pakistan answers to 30 questions they had posed in connection with Mumbai’s “horrific terror attacks” and underlined that these replies provided “enough material” for Islamabad to take the investigation forward and punish the guilty.

Both External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidamabaram stressed that Pakistan should take the investigation forward on the basis of comprehensive documentary information provided by India.

“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,” Chidamabaram said.

But underneath these expectations lie undercurrents of anxiety about the capacity of a weakening civilian government to take action against the Mumbai terrorists, an action that could be opposed by hawks in the establishment.

“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,” well placed 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 at the political turmoil in Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday reviewed the developments in Pakistan at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Mukherjee also underlined the need for “strong and stable regimes” in the neighbourhhod keeping probably the volatile situation in Pakistan in mind.

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