Pakistan wants more Mumbai info, India says action first, talks later (Roundup)

February 24th, 2009 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 24 (IANS) India Tuesday said it will respond to Pakistan’s queries seeking more details, including audio recordings of conversations between the Mumbai terrorists and their handlers, but asked Islamabad to “do more” to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil if it wants to resume the peace process.
“So far the composite dialogue is concerned, it is paused and we expect Pakistan to do more in respect of dismantling the terror infrastructure,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here when asked about the likelihood of restarting the dialogue with the neighbouring country.

When Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik met Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Monday, he raised the issue of reviving the composite dialogue that went into a limbo after the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year.

Menon is likely to meet his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Colombo next week for the SAARC ministerial conference. But it’s not clear whether the two officials will hold talks on the sidelines of the meet. If the talks are held, it will mark the first high-level contact between the two countries after the Mumbai attacks.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was scheduled to go for the 31st meeting of the SAARC council of ministers, but he is unable to go due to his domestic responsibilities, official sources said.

After Islamabad admitted nearly a fortnight ago that a part of the Mumbai conspiracy was hatched and executed by its citizens from Pakistani territory, Pakistani leaders have been asking India to restart the fifth round of composite dialogue in media interviews, saying only talks can resolve issues related between the two countries.

New Delhi has, however, made it clear that the resumption of the dialogue process can only happen after “credible and verifiable action” by Islamabad against the Mumbai terrorists and the larger terror infrastructure that is deployed to target the Indian territory.

With Pakistani leaders raising the pitch for more information relating to the Mumbai atrocity, Mukherjee again reminded Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the carnage to justice. “The process is on. We have received their response. We are going to send the response to them,” he said.

In its response to the 26/11 dossier presented by India, Pakistan Feb 12 raised 30 questions, saying this information was needed to prosecute Pakistani militants detained by their authorities in connection with the Mumbai blasts.

Pakistan has asked for an “authenticated copy” of the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone Mumbai attacker arrested during the Mumbai attacks, as recorded by judicial authorities and “other documentation/diaries recovered from his possession”.

It has also sought mobile phone numbers “used by Ajmal in the past, if disclosed during interrogation”.

In its note verbale to India, Islamabad has also asked for the digital notebooks/ diaries recovered from killed terrorists and authenticated copies of seizure memos of all the articles recovered from or belonging to accused terrorists along with their photographs.

Islamabad also wants authentic forensic analysis reports of mobile/satellite phones and or any other evidence establishing connectivity and communication of the terrorists with militants based abroad along with identifying particulars.

It wants logs of cell phone interceptions and detailed transcripts of conversation amongst the terrorists during the terror activity from 26 to 28 Nov as well as with their handlers and sought the fingerprints and DNA profiles of all 10 terrorists involved in the attacks so that they can be compared with its available database.

They have requested for the post-mortem reports of all the killed terrorists.

Pakistan also suspects that some Indians were also involved in the attacks and hinted at the connivance of Indians in helping terrorists organize the attacks.

“Why did the terrorists not come to the notice of the Gujarat and Maharashtra governments after having travelled by sea in their territory, including reported refuelling enroute? Besides, how did they manage to evade so many coastal radars?” asks Islamabad in its response to the Indian dossier.

It has asked details of interrogation reports of Mukhtar Ahmed (Counter-insurgency Officer) and Tausif Rehman, both Indian nationals, arrested after the Mumbai attacks on charge of providing SIMs to the terrorists and sought the eyewitness account of constable Arun Jadhav - the only policeman to survive a terrorist attack which killed ATS chief Hemant Karkare and two other senior officials Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar.

“It is necessary as Karkare was investigating the cases against militants in mass scale killings of Muslims in India, including Lt. Col. Prasad Shrikant Purohit, reportedly involved in the Samjhauta Express incident,” a report in the Dawn daily said Tuesday.

“Linkages between a diamond merchant from Surat, Gujarat, and some Hindus in Pakistan need to be clarified as the diamond merchant was alleged to have sponsored the Malegaon blasts through Col. Purohit,” the report added.

Pakistan has also asked Indian authorities for the photograph that was used by Kasab to identify Lashker-e-Taiba operative Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Kasab has named Lakhvi as the mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks.

The Pakistani response also sought to raise questions over some of the data provided by India in its dossier. While seeking GPS data to identify the “launching area” of the terrorist, it said “certain ambiguities have been noticed in the information already provided”.

India is ready to provide some of this information and has launched inter-agency consultation process for the same, but it is not comfortable with some of the questions that it sees as “diversionary tactics” aimed at giving a domestic angle to the Mumbai attacks.

The demand for tapes of recordings of the conversation of the Mumbai attackers and those of the conversations they had with their Pakistan-based handlers could also run into problems as some of these tapes run into 60 hours.

Indian authorities see Pakistan’s posers as a time-buying tactic to divert attention from its primary responsibility of bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice. “There is no guarantee that they will not ask for still more questions after the present lot. For India, the key issue is prosecuting and punishing the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks,” said government sources.

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