Pakistan tells India it has launched probe into 26/11 (Lead)

January 16th, 2009 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghIslamabad, Jan 16 (IANS) Pakistan Friday officially informed India that it has launched investigations into the Mumbai attacks in response to the evidence provided by New Delhi of the involvement of Pakistani “elements” in the terror strike.Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir gave the information to Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal at a meeting held here at the Foreign Office Friday.

According to a statement by the Foreign Office spokesman, the foreign secretary said that an official inquiry has already been launched as announced by the Pakistani prime minister in his address to the National Assembly on Jan 13.

Pakistan has formed a three-member committee to probe the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Interior ministry officials said the committee has been asked to complete the probe “as soon as possible”. However, the panel will submit weekly reports to senior officials.

The committee, if required, will also communicate with Indian officials in charge of the Mumbai attack investigations.

Pakistan has been under tremendous pressure from the Indian government and the international community to hold fair and transparent probe into the attacks that India maintains were triggered and masterminded by militant elements in Pakistan.

However, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, that has been accused of planning and training the attackers, has expressed doubts over what is being called transparent investigations and trial of the suspects who mostly belong to the JuD’s militant wing Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Salman Bashir also conveyed to the Indian High Commissioner the sequence and series of actions initiated by Pakistan in pursuance of its international obligations as well as those relating to the Mumbai terrorist attacks, said a statement.

“The foreign secretary mentioned that it was important for Pakistan and India to chart the way forward on anti-terrorism cooperation as well as the imperative need for an across the board constructive bilateral engagement,” said the statement.

Bashir also handed over a letter written by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in response to the New Year’s greetings received from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The three-member panel is to be headed by Additional Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Javed Iqbal, and comprises counter-terrorism experts Khalid Qureshi and Liaquat Ali Khan.

An interior ministry official told IANS: “The committee has started its work and their first meeting was held in the Interior Ministry. They have been given financial authority as well so that they can move freely within the country for interrogating people.” The panel will be given access to all information collected by the security agencies so far, he said.

Replying to a question, the official said that the “government will have no objection if the committee wants to travel to India to question Ajmal Amir Kasab (the lone terrorist captured in the 26/11 attacks)… however, it depends if India agrees to it. We will cross the bridge when we come to it”.

India has blamed the Mumbai attacks, in which 170 people were killed, on “elements” based in Pakistan and provided Islamabad with a dossier containing evidence. But Islamabad termed it just information asking India to provide “concrete evidence”.

A Jamaat leader told IANS: “Whatever the government is doing is under pressure from India… even the UNSC Committee sanctions were pushed by Pakistan and the crackdown on Jamaat was done after pressure from India.”

He said: “We want fair and transparent probe under the UN auspices and without any fear or pressure… you can expect the result of investigations and trial that is being done under tremendous pressure rather under instructions.

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