No climbdown, 26/11 terrorists must face Indian justice: India (Lead)

January 16th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) A day after he indicated India was willing to accept a trial of fugitives in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday hardened his posture, saying there was “no question of a climbdown” and reiterated that the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage must face Indian justice.“We have never given up the demand that perpetrators of terror acts should be extradited to India. There is no question of that or climbdown,” Mukherjee told reporters when asked whether there was a shift in India’s demand to Pakistan to extradite the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.

“However, the fact remains that dastardly terror crimes have been committed in India. Therefore, the perpetrators must face Indian justice,” Mukherjee asserted in a bid to counter the impression created by his comments in an interview to Aaj Tak.

“This is not an either or situation as these things are not mutually exclusive,” he said on a day Pakistan responded to the 26/11 dossier presented by India that linked Pakistani nationals to the Mumbai attacks.

“It would be ideal if (they) can hand over the fugitives from India to us. If that is not possible, there should at least be a fair trial of these fugitives in Pakistan,” Mukherjee told the news channel Thursday.

“It should not be a mock trial. It should be transparent and demonstrated,” he had said.

A day later, he was uncompromising. Mukherjee Friday argued that the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries can’t be an excuse for Pakistan as there are many international instruments under which criminals can be extradited.

“Pakistan’s Extradition Act of 1972, in fact, specifically provides for extradition even when there is no bilateral extradition treaty between the countries,” he said.

“The SAARC convention on terrorism also has the same intent and such provisions are there in other international instruments,” he added.

“So I think the position is quite clear and there is no question of dilution in position,” Mukherjee stressed.

India has asked Pakistan to hand over 40 fugitives wanted in various terrorist activities in India, including the Mumbai attacks.

The minister’s stiffening of stance comes on a day when chief opposition Bharatiya Janata Party seized on his comments and accused the government of betraying the victims of terror attack.

“UPA has betrayed the victims and martyrs of terror attack in Mumbai on 26/11 and in the process has betrayed the nation by changing the stance against Pakistan and agreeing to have trials of conspirators and handlers of terror, in Pakistan,” the BJP said in a statement Thursday.

“The nation is shocked and astonished to hear from Pranab Mukherjee that India is ready for trial in Pakistan,” the party said.

These remarks were also interpreted in sections of the media as an echo of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s assertion in New Delhi this week when he rejected the involvement of Pakistani official agencies in the Mumbai attacks and advocated the trial of fugitives in Pakistan.

Mukherjee’s statement was aimed at correcting this misperception, said a diplomat who declined not to be named. India has consistently maintained that Pakistan was bound by international law to extradite all terrorists, he argued.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik Thursday said it has detained 71 members of banned militant groups, put under surveillance 124 others and shut down five training camps of Jamaat ud-Dawa.

Earlier, Islamabad had rubbished New Delhi’s 26/11 dossier, saying it was mere information and not evidence. However, under intense international pressure Pakistan Friday responded to the dossier presented by India nearly two weeks ago. Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir met Satyabrata Pal, India’s high commissioner in Islamabad, and gave him a written response to 26/11 dossier. It’s essentially a summary of what Pakistan’s interior ministry said yesterday, said an official source.

Even as Indian officials scrutinize Pakistan’s response, Mukherjee underlined the need for “transparent and verifiable” investigations into terrorist acts which were
planned and launched from Pakistan.

“Only full investigations which are transparent and verifiable in Pakistan can unveil the full conspiracy. We have been requesting Pakistan to take sincere and effective steps in that direction,” he said.

“Pakistan is obliged to investigate and prosecute the criminals. It is Pakistan’s responsibility that individuals based in Pakistan do not commit criminal acts in other countries and then have effective immunity simply because they are Pakistani nationals,” he added.

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