Kasab can be tried in India: Pakistani minister

February 22nd, 2009 - 12:33 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Feb 21 (IANS) In yet another about-turn on the Mumbai terror strikes, a Pakistani minister said Saturday that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured alive during the mayhem, could be tried in India, where he had committed the crime and from where he could not be extradited.
“There is no way to extradite Ajmal Kasab. We can conduct the trial of the accused who are in Pakistan. Ajmal Kasab has committed a crime in India, he can be tried there,” Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said in Gujrat town of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

It was not immediately clear whether Mukhtar was reflecting the views of the Pakistani government or was speaking in his personal capacity. This is perhaps the first time the defence minister has spoken in public on the issue.

Mukhtar’s remarks came after Pakistan Wednesday appeared to be speaking in two voices on Kasab, with a law officer asking India to hand him over and the foreign ministry saying no formal request had been made.

“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,” Deputy Attorney General Sardar Mohammad Ghazi said.

However, the foreign office was quick to say no formal request had been made as yet.

On Feb 14 too, Pakistan had said it might seek Kasab’s custody if its investigations required that, but India had immediately nixed the idea.

“If Ajmal Kasab is needed for the investigation process, then India could be asked (to hand) him over,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Karachi.

India was quick to react, saying there was no way this could happen.

According to Mukhtar, the six accused who have been arrested in Pakistan for their alleged role in the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai carnage that claimed over 170 lives, including those of 26 foreigners, will be tried under Pakistani laws.

The six suspects, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that India says planned the Mumbai attacks, were Feb 15 sent to two-week’s remand by an anti-terrorism court in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Pakistan has filed charges against eight men for the Mumbai mayhem. One of them is Kasab, who is in the custody of Mumbai Police, while one is at large.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan could proceed with its investigations into the Mumbai attacks after receiving India’s response to a set of 30 questions seeking more information.

“We are waiting for their response. We will take our next steps in light of the information provided by India,” Qureshi told reporters here.

Pakistan had submitted its set of questions in response to a dossier India had handed over in January pointing to the involvement of elements from this country in the Mumbai attacks.

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