Mumbai Attacks: INDO-PAK Tension [Full Coverage]
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Mumbai attack trial begins
Sometimes breaking into laughter, the man accused of being the lone surviving gunman in last year's Mumbai attacks told an Indian court on Monday that he was from Pakistan and wanted legal assistance, officials said.
The trial of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, whom police formally charged in February with 'waging war' against India, began on Monday via a video link with his prison in Mumbai. Gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day rampage in the city last November.
A bearded Kasab smiled and looked composed when the judge asked him whether he had received a copy of the charges and if he wanted an attorney, a government lawyer said.
'I don't have a lawyer,' special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam quoted him as telling the judge.
'He was smiling throughout and said that he was from Faridkot in Pakistan,' Nikam said. 'He started laughing when the judge asked him if he understood everything in the charge sheet.'
Police say Kasab, who faces a maximum sentence of death by hanging, was injured in a shootout. Pictures of the young man, wearing sneakers and carrying an automatic rifle and backpack, were published around the world after the attacks.
Kasab has since been held in jail, with Indian lawyers refusing to defend him.
'He had earlier requested legal assistance from Pakistan. We need some more time to appoint a lawyer to defend him,'Nikam told the judge. The case will be heard again on March 30.
Authorities have cited security fears as behind the decision to not produce Kasab in person for the hearings till a special bomb-proof concrete cage inside a Mumbai jail is ready.
Police and jail officers have said Kasab, who on Monday was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans, has been cooperating.
'He has confessed that he is from Pakistan and has also asked the court for legal assistance,' Rakesh Maria, the chief investigator in the case, told Reuters.
Two Indians – Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin – accused of being members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group and of scouting Mumbai landmarks before the attacks also appeared in court by video conference.
'They have both requested for lawyers and the court will take a decision,' Nikam added.
India has charged 38 people, including Kasab and the two Indians, in connection with the case. Most of the accused reside in Pakistan, the Indian government says.
The charge sheet, which runs to some 11,000 pages, contains accounts of more than 2,200 witnesses as well as other evidence provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which helped Indian police with the probe.
Pakistan to give Interpol DNA data from Mumbai probe
The head of Interpol said Sunday that Pakistan had agreed to provide DNA profiles and other data on suspected terrorists it obtained during a probe into the Mumbai attacks, AFP reports.
‘Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will send Interpol the DNA profiles that it obtained during its investigation,’ Interpol Chief Ronald Noble told a news conference after talks with Pakistani officials.
Interpol is a global organisation that facilitates cooperation among police forces of member countries.
The profiles will be compared against the ‘world's only global DNA database containing more than 83,000 DNA profiles,’ he added.
‘Information exchanged through the Interpol data could not only result in potential breakthroughs in the Pakistani investigation but will also help other police forces protect their citizens from terrorist attacks,’ he observed.
Noble said he would like India also to provide similar details.
‘In order for these comparisons to be complete India will be required to send Interpol the DNA profiles that they obtained in their investigation.’
The Mumbai attacks that left 165 dead have been blamed by New Delhi on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba.
Both LeT and Pakistan have denied any involvement but Islamabad admitted last month for the first time that the strikes were partly planned on its soil.
Pakistan said it had filed a case against eight people suspected of a role in the siege, and that six of them were in custody.
The FIA has already given Interpol a copy of its investigation report into the Mumbai attacks, which Noble said his organisation was grateful for.
‘For the first time in the three months since those deadly attacks occurred, Interpol has received police information of paramount importance,’ he said.
‘For the first time we have police information on those who planned, facilitated and funded those attacks,’ he said.
‘For the first time, we have detailed information about telephone numbers, bank accounts used in terrorist financing as well as Internet addresses and the equipment and material used to perpetrate these attacks,’ he said.
‘Already Pakistan's FIA has established links to seven countries including India and countries in the heart of Europe and the Middle East,’ he added.
Pakistan awaits Indian reply to questions: FO
Pakistan Thursday said it was still awaiting reply from India to its questions regarding the Mumbai attacks in November last year.
“Pakistan is serious to root out extremism and terrorism using all possible means and sources with international cooperation,” said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit at his weekly briefing.
He said Pakistan had adopted 3D policy based on Dialogue, Development and Deterrence to fight extremism and terrorism.
The spokesman said, “Pakistan is looking forward to timely and comprehensive response from India on its questions regarding the investigation into Mumbai attacks.”
He said extremism and terrorism are common enemy of every one and Pakistan wants to fight it with the international cooperation.
The spokesman said Pakistan is willing to revive and resume the dialogue process with India, sooner or latter.
Replying to a question, the spokesman said US Director Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Robert Mueller will visit Pakistan in first week of March to share information in the ongoing process of investigation into Mumbai attacks.
Indian police file charges in Mumbai terror case
Police in Mumbai filed charges on Wednesday in what they said was a watertight case against dozens of alleged plotters in the terror attack on India’s financial hub, but there were doubts if the sole surviving gunman they allegedly picked up in Mumbai on November 26 would get a defence lawyer of his choice.
Many lawyers have shunned Mohammed Ajmal Qasab in the emotionally charged affair because his defence would hurt their nationalist sentiments, and others they have refused to take up the brief for fear of reprisals by Hindu extremists who have warned of dire consequences if they did.
Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam filed the mammoth charge sheet against Ajmal Amir Qasab and 35 others, including the Pakistan-based leaders of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the court of a metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai, reports said.
Qasab, who has been under custody since he was arrested three months ago, will now be put under trial for charges of ‘murder and waging war’ against India.
India has blamed Pakistan-based elements, including the banned Lashker-e-Taiba group, for the attacks in an up market location of Mumbai.
The submission of the charge sheet completes the first phase of police investigations into the terrorist attack. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for March 19.
India's anti-terrorist squad killed all but one of the 10 gunmen who attacked sites in India's financial capital and held hostages for three days.
Declaring the case to be watertight, Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner Rakesh Maria was quoted as claiming that officers of the Pakistani Army may have been involved in the attacks that last three days.
‘We have found in the investigations two names which have designations that could belong to the Pakistan Army. It includes a Major General,’ Mr Maria told the media in Mumbai. However, he added, they could also belong to Lashkar ranks.
‘There are 35 accused wanted in the case including JuD’s (jamaat ud Dawa’s) Hafiz Sayeed, LeT’s Lakhvi, Abu Hamza, Hakim, Mursheed etc. and all are Pakistanis. There is evidence of involvement of two Indians- Fahim and Sabbuddin,’ he added.
Some of these are the men who trained the suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, and bought a Yamaha engine for the boat that carried the attackers and sent the terror e-mails.
Providing details about the charge sheet, Mr Maria was quoted by Indian news agencies as saying witnesses included eyewitnesses plus medical and forensic experts who are named in the charge sheet. Identification parade of the corpses of the alleged attackers was also carried out, ‘probably for the first time in history.’
‘We have good evidence. The charge sheet is very comprehensive and covers all the suspects,’ Mr Maria said. The Mumbai Police filed charge sheet in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in the Qila court in Mumbai. It has mentioned the names of the lone surviving terrorist – Ajamal Amir Qasab and 35 others involved in the terror attack.
Informing the media that the investigation was still on-going, Mr Maria said the attack resembled a fidayeen operation.
Two national television channels said the charge sheet named 19 other people, including Indians and Pakistanis, with planning and abetting the crime.
The charge sheet contains accounts of more than 100 witnesses as well as other evidence provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which helped Indian police with the probe.
Police on Tuesday said evidence also included transcripts of phone calls between the attackers and their ‘handlers’ in Pakistan, video footage from attack sites, and what police say is the confession of Mohammed Ajmal Qasab, the surviving gunman.
If found guilty, Qasab and those charged with waging war with India could face the gallows.
Qasab was captured during the attacks while nine other gunmen, who India says were Pakistani militants, were killed in a 60-hour rampage across two five-star hotels, a Jewish centre and a crowded train station in India's financial hub.
Analysts said the charges of ‘waging war’ with India mean there is almost no chance Qasab would be handed over to Pakistan for trial.
India has said the Pakistani militants must have been supported by Pakistani security agencies.
India to charge Ajmal Kasab Wednesday: Rakesh Maria
Indian police questioning the lone surviving gunman accused of involvement in the deadly attacks in Mumbai will lay formal charges against him Wednesday, police said.
Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman, also known as Kasab, was arrested during the November 26-29 attacks on Mumbai, India's financial capital.
'The charge sheet will be filed tomorrow (Wednesday),' Mumbai's joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria told reporters Tuesday.
'We will file the charge sheet in a city court. It is a mammoth document,' Maria said, without elaborating.
Besides Kasab and nine other suspected Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) militants, the charge sheet may name around 20 more accused believed to be hiding in Pakistan, an official said on condition of anonymity.
Indian law requires that a charge sheet be filed in court against a suspect within 90 days of detention.
Kasab was arrested on November 28.
He faces a string of charges including 'making war against the country' and murder. If convicted he could face the death penalty.
A total of 165 people were killed and 308 injured when the gunmen, allegedly belonging to the Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT), attacked luxury hotels, a railway station, a Jewish centre and a restaurant.
Islamabad earlier this month admitted for the first time that the strikes were partly planned on its soil.
Two other suspected LeT members are also in custody in Mumbai accused of providing support to the attackers.
India to respond Pak queries today: Mukherjee
Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday India would respond to Pakistan’s queries on Mumbai attacks today.
Talking to media in New Delhi after a high level meeting the Indian minister hoped that Pakistan would take more steps to dismantle the terror infrastructure in the country and the culprits of Mumbai attacks will be brought to justice.
Mukherjee said the New Delhi will give response to Pak queries on Mumbai terror strikes today.
Pakistan’s 30 plus 2 questions for India
Material / evidence required from the government of India:
1. Authenticated copy of confessional statement of Ajmal Qasab recorded by the judicial authorities
2. National Identity Card number of Ajmal and other documentation/ diaries recovered from his possession.
3. Cell phone numbers used by Ajmal in the past, if disclosed during interrogation.
4. Detailed description and further particulars / maximum information of reportedly killed terrorists deposed by Ajmal during interrogation with Indian Police.
5. The digital note books/ diaries recovered from killed terrorists.
6. Authenticated copies of seizure memos of all the articles recovered from or belonging to accused terrorists along with their photographs.
7. 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.
8. Logs of cell phone interceptions.
9. Detailed transcripts of conversation amongst the terrorists during the terror activity from 26 to 28 Nov as well as with their handlers.
10. Cell-phone numbers targeted for transcripts immediately after the terror strike.
11. Intercepted voice recording identified by Ajmal Qasab as of Abu Hamza and Kahfa etc for voice analysis, as well as further details about alleged handlers ‘Abu Hamza’ and ‘Kahfa’.
12. Thuraya telephone forensic analysis including:
a) Numbers in stored memory.
b) Called numbers /log
c) SMS messages
d) Any other information
13. Forensic analysis of cell phones, recovered from the possession of accused including:
a. Dialled numbers
b. Missed and received calls.
c. Last location
d. Photographs / movies
e. Audio recording
f. IMEI no. & SIM IMSI no
g. Screen shots etc
14. Fingerprints of all the ten accused for comparison with available database.
15. Fingerprints lifted from recovered weapons, personal articles and navigation devices etc. of the accused required for comparison.
16. Clear photographs of the accused for identification and matching with the national database.
17. DNA profiles of all the terrorists arrested / killed.
18. Post mortem reports of all the killed terrorists.
19. Forensic analysis and photograph of engravings on Yamaha engine including the tampering of letters on the engine. Two letters are missing. Complete engine number must be provided.
20. Photographs of engravings on pistols /SMGs recovered from the accused for identification.
21. Confirmation as to whether the pistols used by the terrorists were 9 mm! The picture of pistol shows a TT 7.62 MM (30 Bore) and CAL-30 is clearly visible.
22. Headers of the email received from email@example.com claiming responsibility and clarification as to which specific media received the same.
23. Complete and date wise CCTV footage of all the incidents.
24. GPS data regarding travelling log, location to check log and coordinates, etc. for identifying the launching area. This is important because certain ambiguities have been noticed in the information already provided. For instance, if the terrorists started in a small boat from Karachi at approximately 0800 hours on 22nd Nov, then how come MOB waypoint is showing the boat’s position near Keti Bandar nearly one hour before this time? Out of 17 waypoints, only three have date stamps and remaining is without the same, creating doubt whether these points are authentic or created through GPS.
25. GPS operation is dependent on internal or external batteries, thus following points need elaboration:
a. If internal batteries were used, a large cache of batteries were required to keep them operative for more than six days.
b. If external batteries were used on boat then picture / evidence of the same should have been included in the list of items recovered from ‘Kuber’.
c. Picture labelled ‘Thuraya satellite phone found in Kuber’ is of GPS of Garmin Company as GPS navigation buttons, waypoint names on screen and company name are clearly visible.
26. Photograph identified by Ajmal as Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi.
27. Relevant information pertaining to tailor / company marks, brand names as well as dry cleaning or laundry stamps on clothes seized.
28. Google earth does not carry details of security systems, various entries / exit points, inner details. Such like information requires extensive physical reconnaissance and establishment of control centre within targets. Further details are required.
29. Why did the terrorists not come to the notice of Gujrat 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?
30. Details of interrogation reports of Mukhtar Ahmed (Counter-insurgency Officer) and Tausif Rehman, both Indian nationals, arrested after Mumbai attacks on charge of providing SIMs to the terrorists.
Additional Information Required.
The eye witness account of Jugdev, the only survivor boarding the vehicle of ATS Chief Mr Hemant Karkare, accompanied by two other senior police officers in the same vehicle namely Mr Salasker and Mr Kamteis required to be examined by investigators in Pakistan. It is necessary as Mr Karkare was investigating the cases against militants in mass scale killings of Muslims in India including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, reportedly involved in Samjhota Express incident.
Linkages between diamond merchant firm Surat, Gujrat and some Hindus in Pakistan need to be clarified as the diamond merchant was alleged to sponsor Malegoen blasts through Col Purohit.
Pakistan calls for statement given by eye-witness
Pakistan has asked India to provide the eye witness account of Police Constable Arun Jadhav, who was the lone survivor of the attack on the car carrying Anti-Terror Squad Chief Hemant Karkare on the first day of Mumbai attack, saying its investigators probing the terror strike needed to examine it.
This demand was made in the 30 plus 2 questions handed over to India in the 9 page reply to its (Indian) dossier on 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Jadhav had survived the attack in which ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, all three traveling in the same car, had been killed by two assailants.
The three top police officials were on their way to a hospital when their vehicle was commandeered by the attackers hiding behind a tree.
As the investigations progress, the investigators here say that they intend to closely study the possible linkage of the Mumbai incident to Samjohota Express incident and Malegoen blasts.
The investigations by India have so far focussed on piling pressure on Pakistan, overlooking serious internal problems.
Analysts say the arrested extremist Hindus in Malegoen blasts warranty broadening of the investigations.
Indian media and certain analysts had soon after the incident described Karkare’s death as a setback for Malegoen blasts.
‘His death is likely to affect the probe into the Malegaon blast,’ a journalist had said on that occasion.
Karkare while leading the investigation into the 2008 Malegoan blasts laid hands on some 11 persons linked to radical Hindu groups on suspicion of being behind the blasts.
Hindu organisations and opposition groups like Bharatiya Janta Party and Shiv Sena alleged that the arrests were meant to appease India’s Muslim population.
Karkare came under intense political pressure during the probe. His investigations had further uncovered that Lt Col Purohit arrested in connection with Malegoen blasts was also involved in Samjhota Express incident.
Jadhav’s eye witness account, investigators believe, could become crucial in coming days.
The constable after the incident gave a number of media interviews, however, he was silenced by India’s political and security establishment that barred him from speaking to the media.
Explaining the reason for seeking the eye witness account of the lone survivor, the reply to Indian dossier notes: ‘It is necessary as Mr Karkare was investigating the cases against militants in mass scale killings of Muslims in India including Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit, reportedly involved in Samjhota Express incident.’
Furthermore, clarification has been sought from India about the contacts between Surat’s diamond merchant firm and some Hindus in Pakistan. The diamond firm is alleged to be the sponsor of the Malegoen blasts through Lt Col Purohit.
The information regarding Jadhav’s statement and Surat diamond firm has been asked separately from the main thirty questions and has been placed at Annexure B in Pakistan’s response.
Ostensibly, in a bid to explore the local assistance to the attackers, the thirty questions have asked for the details of interrogation of Counter Insurgency Officer Mukhtar Ahmed, another Indian national Tausif Rehman, both of whom had been arrested after the Mumbai attack on the charge of providing cell phone Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to the terrorists.
A separate question requires an explanation about how the terrorists got the details of their targets. The question noted that finer details of targets like security systems, entry/exit points could be had only after physical reconnaissance and setting up of control centers within the targets.
Most of the remaining thirty questions seek general details about the assailants like the confessional statement of lone surviving attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab, his Pakistani National Identity Card, the cell phone numbers he had used in the past, detailed description of other killed terrorists, their DNA profiles, list of the possessions recovered from the killed attackers and their finger prints.
Some other queries pertain to the picture identified by Kasab as that of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and the recording of voice identified by Kasab as that of Abu Hamza and Kahfa, who were allegedly the handlers.
The questions also point out certain ambiguities in the dossier that had been given to Pakistan and asks India to clarify them. In one instance it says: ‘If the terrorists started in a small boat from Karachi at approximately 0800 hours on 22nd Nov, then how come MOB waypoint is showing the boat’s position near Keti Bandar nearly one hour before this time?’
Moreover, it said, out of 17 waypoints, only three have date stamps and remaining is without the same, creating doubt whether these points are authentic or created through GPS.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while emphasising on the need for India to respond to the questions given to it had over the weekend told media persons that Pakistan ‘will take the next step in the light of reply received from India’.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesman Mr Abdul Basit in a statement on Monday said: ‘The entire international community has praised Pakistan for its earnestness and cooperation in bringing the perpeterators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Pakistan will continue working towards this end.’
Pakistan still in denial mode on 26/11: India
External affairs minister of India Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday accused Pakistan of still being in denial mode over cross-border terrorism.
Talking to newsman here, Mukherjee also accused Pakistan of not co-operation with India in curbing terror.
Commenting on the Pakistan-Taliban ceasefire deal in Swat valley, Pranab Mukherjee said the Pakistan government's deal with Taliban is a matter of concern for India.
"No compromise should be made with terrorist organisations like Taliban," added the external affairs minister.
War was never an option: Mukherjee
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee dramatically scaled down his hawkish stance with Pakistan on Wednesday and told parliament that New Delhi had never considered war as an option to vent its anger at Islamabad over the Mumbai massacres of November last year.
In fact, in an apparent reference to US drone strikes on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan in recent days, Mr Mukherjee told the upper house of parliament: 'We can't imitate certain other countries and their action…Many, many innocent lives are being lost every day.'
Taking a jibe at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA coalition that had ordered a massive troop mobilisation during the 2002 standoff with Pakistan, Mr Mukherjee said this time around India had not moved a single soldier nor did it 'press the panic button,' or lay mines on the border.
'We said we expected Pakistan to fulfill its commitment,' he claimed and added that war would not solve the problem of terrorism.
Mr Mukherjee, who had led relentless sabre-rattling briefings to the media together with his other colleagues, with frequent 'all options open' threats, appeared to suggest that much of it was bluster.
He said India had demanded the plotters' extradition. He told Pakistan on February 12 that 'we would also expect that the government of Pakistan take credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan.'
And almost taking the cue, the same day, Pakistan acknowledged for the first time that its territory had been used to plot the November attack in Mumbai and said eight suspects had been charged.
What Mr Mukherjee did not say was that his tone and that of Pakistan registered a perceptible moderation after the US envoy Richard Holbrooke visited them, a coincidence that requires explaining.
India beefed up security and surveillance after 164 people were killed in Mumbai between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29 when 10 terrorists attacked the country's financial hub. India handed Pakistan and other governments a dossier on Jan. 5 citing intercepted communications and other evidence to identify the banned Pakistan-based guerrilla group Lashkar-e-Taiba as the author of the attack.
The attacks interrupted a five-year peace process between the two nuclear-armed neighbours whose last military standoff in 2002 saw diplomats in both capitals running for cover. Even the UN had pulled out its non-essential staff that year.
Mr Mukherjee, who has accused Pakistan of delaying, denial and prevarication, was a different person during his reply to the motion of thanks to the president's address to parliament. He told MPs that a delay in Pakistan's reply 'does not mean we have to rub them on the wrong side…Attacking Pakistan is not the solution.'
Mr Mukherjee berated the opposition for demanding, 'why can't we retaliate like some other countries are doing.'
He said it was a vindication of his government's policy that 'diplomacy has paid. It has not failed.... We said that the non-state actors were not coming from the heaven and they (Pakistan) have admitted it'.
He said India did not have any 'quarrel' with the people of Pakistan, 'but I cannot carry on business as usual till these perpetrators (of Mumbai attacks) are brought to justice and the infrastructural facilities which are available to the terrorists who are operating from there are dismantled'.
Amid thumping of desks, Mr Mukherjee said: 'We could mobilise international opinion in our favour' with deft diplomacy.
He mentioned the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in July last year, for which New Delhi had blamed Pakistan's spy agency. He regretted that Pakistan had not shared information on the attack despite making a promise in this regard.
He refuted the charge that India was engaged in peace-keeping activities in Afghanistan with some ulterior motive. New Delhi, he said, had 'no territorial ambition'.
Meanwhile, reports here said that India was viewing Pakistan's peace deal with Taliban with concern. 'While some reports in Pakistan say that the deal could be a tactical retreat by Islamabad, New Delhi sees it as a military surrender to the Taliban, something that confirms its fears of the Pakistan Army's inability to check the growing influence of Taliban,' NDTV reported. It did not quote a source for the official claim.
Dispatch of FIA to India on the cards
Prime Minister Gilani has said that the FIA had also sought permission from the government to visit India in connection with Mumbai attacks investigation.
Prime Minister Gilani said Indian government wanted the investigators of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to visit India to assist the probe into Mumbai attacks.
However, media reports suggested that India has never agreed to Pakistan's offer of jointly investigate the case and turned down such offers in the recent past.
Pakistan has already registered a case against eight perpetrators out of which six are in custody. After registering the case against the accused, Pakistan has sent a dossier carrying 30 questions to India for thoroughly probing into Mumbai attacks.
'We have asked the Indian authorities to share more information so that the culprits could be given strong prosecution. One should not think that we are passing responsibility on India, rather we want to give strong prosecution to the culprits,' the adviser said.
In the dossier Pakistan has sought statement of Ajmal Kasab given to Indian authority, his figure prints and his accomplices who took part in the episode, intercepted conversations, details of the seven SIMs used by the culprits for interaction, ID card and other documents, photo images of the other nine terrorists.
The government on Wednesday also announced that it was considering extradition of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of Mumbai attacks last November.
Dispelling an impression that Pakistan has formally asked India to handover Kasab to Pakistani investigators, the government claimed that it has so far not formally asked India for that.
However, newly appointed deputy attorney general Sardar Ghazi on Wednesday told private TV channels that the government had formally asked India to handover Kasab. Later he clarified his own statement saying it was under consideration.
The statement of newly appointed deputy attorney general was flashed in private TV channels followed by government clarifications. Foreign Office spokesman said: 'Pakistan has made no formal request to India as yet.'
Prime Minister's Adviser on Interior Rehman Malik said there was no formal request from Pakistan to get Kasab. 'Neither Pakistan has asked for Kasab nor India has demanded the extradition of Maulana Masood Azhar and Indian gold dealer Daud Ibrahim,' he added.
Information minister Sherry Rehman also denied that India had been formally requested for extradition of Kasab. About Maulana Masood Azhar and Daud Ibrahim, she said: 'They were not in Pakistan.'
The deputy attorney general said the investigation into Mumbai attack could not reach to a logical conclusion unless it was jointly conducted by Pakistan and India.
FBI hands over 26/11 evidence to India
The US investigating agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has handed over all crucial evidence of Mumbai attacks to Mumbai police in Washington.
Media reports said here the FBI team headed by Deputy Inspector General of Deven Bharti gave a Letters Rogatory issued by a Mumbai court and vetted by the Ministry of External Affairs to the US Department of Justice in Washington.
The US agency had collected the details of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services used by terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The Mumbai police also sought FBI's support in sharing the proofs like call details made through VoIP and from the satellite phone besides getting the documents related to Global Positioning System used by the terrorists.
The FBI had also gathered evidence relating to forensic examination of the bullets used by the terrorists.
Advani says cant rule out local hand in 26/11
BJP leader L K Advani while demanding a thorough judicial inquiry into Mumbai attacks said it could not have taken place without local support.
Speaking in the Parliament on Tuesday, he said "it is clear that planning happened for a year and they visited the places they attacked on November 26. It is not not possible that there are no no local links in 26/11. It is a well-planned conspiracy. "
"The investigation is not not yet complete. Yet a statement by the Mumbai Police Commissioner says that all those responsible for the carnage have been accounted for. That they are either dead or in custody. And there is no no local link. How can they have given
that certificate," he questioned.
He demanded a thorough judicial investigation into 26/11 attacks.
Meanwhile Congress severely criticized Advani over his remarks.
India shall seriously respond Pak questions: Qureshi
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked India to seriously respond to Pakistan's questions regarding Mumbai attacks probe.
Talking to reporters at his hometown here, the FM also denied the statement by a US Senator that the drones attack suspected al Qaeda targets in Fata use Pakistani airbase..
Qureshi said that India should sincerely respond to the questions raised by Pakistan in its initial investigation report, if the neighbouring country was serious in successful prosecution of the Mumbai attack accused. The process of prosecution should meet its logical conclusion of punishment to those involved in the Mumbai attacks but Indian cooperation is needed to achieve the objective.
He said Pakistaní investigations into Mumbai attacks raised many questions, which needed to be answered correctly to guide the prosecution process to its logical conclusion.
Replying to a question, the minister said: ìOur investigations have found missing links and today even Indian people talk about possibility of involvement of local elements in Mumbai attacks.Qureshi said India should unveil local elements or entity involved in the Mumbai attacks to achieve the objective of defeating the common enemy of terrorism.
He said there exists no extradition treaty between India and Pakistan but added that Pakistan was sincere and serious in prosecuting the Mumbai attack accused and the whole world has acknowledged it.
Congress admits likely local link in Mumbai attacks
The ruling Congress Party and Mumbai Police have also confessed local link in the Mumbai strikes after Indian opposition party's leader Narendra Modi remarked that there was a local link involved in the execution of 26/11 attacks.
BJP leader Narendra Modi has severely criticized Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on his words about local link in Mumbai terror strikes.
In his rejoinder Modi said when he had remarked that such attacks cannot take place without the support of local elements than he was severely attacked by the government and was accused of links with Pakistan. Now the government itself admits local links in the attacks which highlight failure of the government in national security.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Ghafoor has also indicated a home link in the attacks.
Two Mumbai bodies still unidentified
Nearly three months on from the Mumbai attacks, two of the 165 people who were killed still remain unidentified – nameless and forgotten victims of the 60-hour siege.
Despite being beamed live across the world for nearly three days and extensive media coverage in India since, no one knows who the men of South Asian appearance are or why their families have not been in touch.
"Nobody has claimed these people," said A.K. Singh, from the communications team at Central Railways, based at the city's main railway station where their bodies were found after the gunmen's rampage there.
"We have put advertisements in various newspapers in Hindi, English and Marathi, not only in Mumbai but in other areas around the country. We have not received any response."
What is known is that the pair had the misfortune to be at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at about 9:20pm on Nov 26 last year when two men walked in calmly and began pumping bullets into the hordes of commuters.
The unknown men were found near the platforms for long-distance trains and confirmed dead by a doctor on arrival at hospital. They were not carrying any identification, Singh said.
While the grieving families of the 163 other people who died have long since come forward to collect their loved ones' remains, the two men's battered bodies still lie preserved in the chill of a Mumbai hospital mortuary.
Instead of being someone's father, husband, son or brother, they have been reduced to numbers in the clinical accounting of the dead and injured.
On the Mumbai Police website's "Unidentified Dead Bodies" section, the pair are listed simply as numbers 43 and 44.
One is said to be aged about 35 and six feet tall, with a distinctive tattoo of an "R" near his right thumb.
The other deceased, said to be 5ft 5 inches tall and aged about 55, appears more dark skinned with noticeable beard growth.
Samjhota, Mumbai attacks linked: Qureshi
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said here on Sunday that the Samjhota Express incident and Mumbai attacks were interconnected and the investigation process could only proceed if India responds to questions asked by Pakistan.
Talking to journalists at the Multan Airport, he said if India wanted to punish the culprits of the Mumbai attack it should reply to the 30 questions raised by Pakistan because answers to these questions were necessary for completion of investigation.
He said Pakistan had shared the report of the Mumbai attack probe with G-8 and other countries. The report, he said, had been appreciated not only by India but by the entire world.
In reply to a question about drone attacks in tribal areas, Mr Qureshi rejected reports that such attacks were launched from Pakistan.
"We have clearly told the US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan that drone attacks are proving to be harmful, instead of helpful, in the war on terror.
"We are against drone attacks and there is no understanding between Pakistan and the US over this issue. Neither the government has allowed such attacks now nor it will allow them in future," Qureshi said.
He said the US was going to change its policy towards Pakistan in the war on terror and the new policy would be presented to Nato on April 2 after consultations with Pakistan.
Mumbai attack culprits will be dealt as per law: Gilani
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said those found involved in Mumbai terror strikes will be dealt in accordance with the law.
In an interview to a US news journal Gilani said Pakistan has paid heavy price in the war against terrorism and urged the United States and the world to help strengthen the capacity of Pakistan's law-enforcement agencies to deal with the challenge posed by militants.
On Indo-Pakistan ties, Gilani said all confidence-building measures with India became "futile" following the Mumbai attacks and said that his government would probe the matter and whoever was involved would be tried according to the laws of the country.
He said the suicide attacks in the country have triggered flight of the capital from the country.
India calls it positive step, wants more credible measures
India on Thursday welcomed the arrest of Mumbai terror suspects by Pakistan as a positive step and hoped that Islamabad would take more credible measures to dismantle alleged infrastructure used by militants for cross-border raids.
A foreign ministry statement in New Delhi said India's High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal met Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir who informed him officially of Islamabad's response to New Delhi's dossier given last month.The dossier had "material that we had made available to Pakistan on January 5 linking the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to perpetrators in Pakistan", India's foreign ministry said.
"In their official response, the Pakistan authorities have admitted that elements in Pakistan were involved in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai. They are still in the process of investigating the attacks, and have taken certain actions including the arrest of some of those who were involved and filing a first information report. This is a positive development," the statement said.Pakistan has also sought further information and material relating to the investigation. "The government of India will now examine the issues raised in the response by Pakistan. After that examination we will share whatever we can with Pakistan," the Indian statement said.
"It remains India's goal to bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to book, and to follow this process through to the end. We would also expect that the government of Pakistan take credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan."
Private and semi-official analysts had a field day. Many preferred to give credit for the positive turn of events not to Pakistan but to the US pressure or to intervention by other foreign governments. They noted that Thursday's developments came in the presence in Islamabad of US special envoy Richard Hollbrooke. Not everyone grudged Pakistan a compliment though. A couple of defence analysts told TV viewers whatever steps were taken by Pakistan had been professionally handled and needed to be welcomed.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee issued a shorter version of his ministry's statement. He too broke from a spate of hardline statements and welcomed as positive steps listed by Mr Rehman Malik and Mr Bashir to the Indian high commissioner.
Even the Indian parliament, which began its last session from Thursday before the general polls in April, heard words of comfort and cheer in the battle against terrorism. President Pratibha Patil, who addressed a customary joint meeting of both houses of parliament, said India had emerged stronger from the nightmare of terrorism.
"Looking back, we see hope," she said. "We have not only withstood the challenges but also emerged stronger. The spirit of ordinary people rising together as one overcame the challenge to our nation from terrorist violence."
Mrs Patil used the occasion to portray the large turnout of voters in Jammu and Kashmir as "a resounding affirmation of their faith in democracy and a rejection of terrorism and violence. The elections have brought new hope to the people of that state," she said.
She bunched the Mumbai attacks with "the terrorist incidents in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Assam and before that on our Embassy in Kabul" which she said were "an assault on all the values that our country stands for. The attack in Mumbai was deliberately planned to retard our economic progress".Mrs Patil said the international community greatly appreciated "the threat that exists to the region and the world from the terrorism emanating from Pakistan".
Extremism remained a major concern in several states. "My government has adopted a holistic approach to tackle this problem in close coordination with the affected states through modernisation of police forces and better implementation of socio-economic development programmes for the most backward regions. Similarly, several initiatives were taken to deal with the problem of insurgency in the northeast."
Indians also involved: Mumbai police
Mumbai Police Commissioner said on Thursday that some Indians were among the 16 men wanted by police for their role in the Mumbai attacks.
Hasan Gafoor said that two Indians had been arrested in this connection.
Fourteen to sixteen men, including Indians and Pakistanis, are wanted in the attacks, he said, adding: We have included names of these men in the dossier sent to Pakistan.
Mr Gafoor said he was unable to say whether the six names they had submitted were the same as those currently being detained in Pakistan.
Asked for his reaction to Pakistan's admission, he said it was a positive development.
He added: It is also a very great reflection on the type of investigation by the Mumbai Police. It shows that we had absolutely clinching evidence that has left no doubt about what we are accusing (people of).
The wanted men had conducted 'recce' and provided financial and logistical support to the attackers and they belong to north India, media reports quoted Mr Gafoor as saying.
Two Indians have already been arrested while some are absconding, and we have informed Pakistan about them. So there are Indians as well as Pakistanis, he said.
Suspects to be tried in camera
All suspects arrested in connection with Mumbai attacks would be tried in the Adiala Central jail under the anti-terrorism law, informed sources told local daily on Thursd
Army under civilian control, believes US
The US State Department has said that the United States deals with the civilian government in Pakistan and believes that the Pakistan military submits to the civilian government control.
The department's deputy spokesman, Robert Wood, who has served as a diplomat in Pakistan, made the observation on Wednesday while responding to a question on whether the Pakistani military was backing Islamabad's efforts to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice.
"I have no reason to doubt that," said Mr Wood. "I mean … the Pakistani military submits to civilian government control, so we deal with the Pakistani government."
The United States, he said, believed that the civilian and military establishments in Pakistan were committed to getting to the bottom of this investigation and to making sure these attacks did happen again.
"So I have no reason to think that the Pakistani army feels otherwise," he added.
The question about differences between the civilian and military establishments in Pakistan over Mumbai attacks are often raised in the US and Indian media, with some reports suggesting that while the Pakistani government may be sincere to ending extremism from the country, the military was not.
The military, according to these reports, saw religious forces as its second line of defence against India and wanted to retain them.
Such suspicions were also raised at the State Department briefing on Wednesday when reporters underlined the supposed or real differences between the civilian and military establishments.
One journalist pointed out that there were concerns in India that Pakistan was not taking 'enough action' against Jamaatud Dawa, which he described as the front group to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
"Do you think that they are sincere in their reaction to Jamaatud Dawa?" he asked.
"I think the Pakistani government is being very sincere," said Mr Wood. "Look, they're on the front lines of terrorism, as we've said many times before."
The United States, he said, had learned from its own experience about how some of these charitable organisations were tied into terrorist groups.
"This is something that they (Pakistan) are going to have to disentangle," he added. "But they've given us a very solemn commitment."
The Pakistani government, he said, had also told the Indians that they're going to do everything they could to help catch the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and to prevent future attacks from happening.
"So we don't have any doubt that Pakistan is committed to trying to get to the bottom of this," said the US official.
US mull putting more Pakistanis on terror list
The Taliban and Alqaeda committee of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is mulling to put more Pakistanis on terror list.
According to senior diplomatic sources, a time-tested friend country is helping Pakistan in this connection.
Senior diplomats are also trying to stop inclusion of names of more Pakistanis into terror list.
The Taliban and Alqaeda Committee of UNSC is a private body which could not take into confidence any country or person regarding its meeting.
A diplomat on condition of anonymity told that Pakistani mission is carried out hectic efforts to prevent inclusion of more Pakistanis into terror list. A close friend country of Pakistan is helping in these efforts.
Kerry urges resumption of Pakistan-India talks
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee's chairman-designate John Kerry has said that India is not aware of all that Pakistan has done to crack down on elements accused of being involved in last month's terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Talking to journalists at the US ambassador's house on Tuesday after meeting President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, he attributed the diplomatic standoff between Pakistan and India to misunderstanding and miscommunication between the two countries.
"Not all actions taken by Pakistan are known to India… More people have been detained by the Pakistani authorities than what is known to the Indians," he said.
Senator Kerry will replace Senator Joe Biden as the head of the committee next month.
He said Pakistan appeared to be equally determined to prosecute anyone against whom sufficient evidence of involvement in the carnage was available.
"The leadership is very clear that they will prosecute the accused and will not only be temporarily closing down camps or making simple house arrests. They intend to prove their bona fide with respect to this effort."
However, he cautioned that the bar was high for Pakistan to re-establish its credibility with India, particularly because of "unfulfilled promises" after an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.
He urged both countries to resume their stalled dialogue.
Senator Kerry said he believed that Pakistan was sincere in actions it was taking against groups accused of involvement in the Mumbai attack.
He said he was particularly optimistic of the crackdown against terrorist groups this time to be different from that in the past because Pakistan itself had been a victim of terrorism and its government was confronted with the fundamental choice of whether or not to protect its people from violence.
"It is a very important choice and is also linked to economic realities," he said, adding that although the US was committed to giving financial assistance to Pakistan, it wouldn't help unless a firm understanding was given about how the government planned to deal with the terror groups operating from the country's soil.
He said the Mumbai tragedy represented a moment of change in people's attitude and thinking.
The US senator said the incident marked a transformation in relations between Pakistan and India and a shift in the understanding of what the challenge represented.
"I have heard condemnation of the incident from all leaders, who have also expressed determination not to allow individual entities like Lashkar-i-Taiba to make foreign policy decisions of the country, or to sidetrack the chosen path of the government and people of the country," he said.
Senator Kerry said the country's civil and political leadership were on the same page with respect to dealing with groups accused of involvement in the attack.
He said Pakistan's civilian and military leaderships were cognisant of the need for rooting out any group that threatened to detract the country from the democratic path.
He stressed that the US would be monitoring Pakistan's firmness in the crackdown. "We are going to watch and hopefully cooperate in the process because we have interest and we have a case."
The US senator urged both Pakistan and India to work with countries which had been affected by the incident for eliminating terrorism and preventing such attacks.
FBI investigators clear ISI
US investigators have concluded after interrogating the lone captured suspect, Ajmal Amir Kasab, that the Inter-Services Intelligence is not involved in the Mumbai attacks.
Diplomats said agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were allowed to interrogate Kasab for nine hours during which they had established that he was a Pakistan national.
The sources said that FBI investigators had also reached a conclusion that the attackers had come to Mumbai from Pakistan. The plan was hatched in Pakistan and terrorists were provided necessary training by Laskar-e-Taiba, according to the investigators.
The US and UK are citing the Indian example and pressuring Pakistan to allow their investigators to interrogate the suspects arrested by Pakistani authorities. The US is also urging Pakistan government to rein in ISI because of its "previous involvement in questionable activities".
Move in US to get Pakistan aid stopped
US politicians with close links to India have quietly launched a campaign to persuade the incoming Obama administration to stop US aid to Pakistan.
"I do not believe in aiding countries that aid terrorism," said US Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.
Declaring Pakistan a "failed State" Congressman Frank Pallone, another Democrat, said he opposed giving billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan because he believed it would be used against India.
Gary Ackerman, a pro-Indian Democratic Congressman from New York who has long advocated stopping US military aid to Pakistan, urged Washington to review its policy towards Islamabad after the Mumbai attacks.
"The implication for us is that there are bad guys still out there, and we're going to have to learn how to deal with them, because our friends are getting sucked into this big-time," said Mr Ackerman, who chairs the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
Some of these lawmakers may move a resolution in the US Congress after the inauguration of the new president on Jan 20, strongly condemning Mumbai attacks and urging lawmakers to stop military assistance to Pakistan.
A $15 billion, 10-year aid package already proposes to attach US military assistance to Pakistan to its performance in the war against terror, authorising the US administration to stop the aid if it finds that Islamabad was not doing enough to fight terrorism.
One of the primary movers of the bill, Senator Joseph Biden, is now the vice-president-elect. He chaired the Senate's powerful Foreign Relations Committee before the November election. A former Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, will replace him as chairman of the committee and is also expected to back the bill to provide generous economic assistance to Pakistan.
But the move by pro-Indian American politicians can harm this effort. Diplomatic observers in Washington feel that while it may not be possible to stop US aid to Pakistan because of the country's strategic importance, the lawmakers may succeed in attaching unfavourable conditions.
Even some of these pro-Indian lawmakers realise Pakistan's strategic importance. Senator Menendez, while emphasising the need to attach US aid to Islamabad's performance in the war against terror, also cautioned a gathering of Indian-Americans in New Jersey this week not to stir an India-Pakistan war because such a conflict "might lead to drastic consequences".
He urged India to come out with all the evidence it had to link Mumbai attacks to Pakistan."We have an obligation to bring terrorists to justice. Lashkar-e-Taiba must be brought to justice," he said.
Congressman Pallone, however, went over the top while condemning Pakistan.
"Pakistan is essentially a failed state. I do not believe the central government controls most of the territory of the country," he declared.
Cooperation in tracking terrorists
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged India and Pakistan to continue to cooperate in bringing perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and in ensuring that such incidents are not repea-ted.
"It is only important, that the parties need to focus on and I think we are focusing on both bringing the perpetrators to justice and prevention of any follow on attacks," she told journalists after attending a meeting of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet at the UN headquarters in New York.
She made that statement in reply to a question on the heightened tension between the two South Asian nations following the incursion of the Indian fighter planes into Pakistani airspace on Saturday.
Ms Rice emphasised that the United States had made its position clear that the two countries should continue to cooperate in bringing those responsible for the terrorist attacks to justice.
In an interview to the Associated Press, Ms Rice opted not to give a categorical answer when asked which the most dangerous region in the world was: the Middle East or South Asia.
She, however, said it was not the Middle East.
"I actually think the Middle East is far better in this regard than it was when we (the Bush administration) came, on many fronts, whether it's the Palestinian-Israeli side or Iraq or the fact that Saudi Arabia," she said.
"I think the Middle East is far less the place from which there are threats. Now, yes, there are problems in other parts of the world."
Secretary Rice said the United States was talking to Pakistan to ensure the security of supplies to the US and allied forces in Afghanistan.
The United States uses the Pakistan route for supplying its troops but recently convoys carrying the supplies have come under frequent attacks from Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents who last week burned scores of trucks.
"We have worked out some arrangements with the Russians through Nato that are helpful in this regard," said Ms Rice while explaining what was the Bush administration doing to ensure that the supplies to its forces in Afghanistan continued unhindered.
"That's being looked at – it's being looked at with the Pakistanis … it's obviously something of a concern," she said. "There have been some significant discussions between the Isaf and Pakistan and the US about how to deal with the situation."
Indian minister says no plan to attack Pakistan
India said Tuesday it was not planning any military action against Pakistan but emphasized that Islamabad will have to take action against militants operating from its soil for bilateral relations to improve.
Federal Defence Minister AK Antony made the comments in New Delhi after news reports said India had prepared to attack Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
"We are not planning any military action," Antony said. 'But at the same time unless Pakistan takes action against those terrorists who are operating from their soil against India and also against all those who are behind this Mumbai terrorist attack, things will be not be normal."
He was talking to reporters on the occasion of Victory Day, which marks the 37th anniversary of India's 1971 military victory over Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
Antony declined to discuss India's specific plans but he urged Pakistan to show sincerity in dismantling terrorist infrastructure on its soil.
"I cannot say what course of action we will take but unless Pakistan shows sincerity in whatever they are saying, through their actions, one thing is very sure that there is no question of things as usual," he added.
Regarding troop deployment along the India-Pakistan borders, the minister described the situation as "normal" and said the Indian military was "always ready."
Antony also denied that India was planning to call off the five-year-old ceasefire along a de-facto border that divides parts of the disputed Kashmir region which both countries administer separately.
Zardari says government backed by Pakistan's Intelligence Agencies
US Senator John Kerry called on President Asif Ali Zardari here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday. Senator John Kerry remained with the President for sometime and discussed with him the situation in the region.
Discussing the role of the Intelligence Agencies of Pakistan in war on terror President Zardari assured US Senator, "Government enjoys full support and cooperation extended by the Intelligence Agencies of Pakistan in its drive against terror war." Ruling out any probability that our nuclear assets could have any threat from militants.
President Zardari said we offered unconditional bilateral cooperation to Indian government to put precincts on those responsible for Mumbai carnage but India only rendered intelligence sharing instead of sharing evidences.
Sources said that Senator urged that both Islamabad and New Delhi should cooperate to ease tension.
Pakistan ready to handle security threats, says PM
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the National Assembly on Monday that Pakistan did not want war but could stand up to one imposed on it as his government seemed seeking to shake off pressure from alleged Pakistani linkages with last month's Mumbai attacks.
He also reaffirmed that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used for terrorist activity while opening a lower house debate on the situation arising out of the Nov 26 attacks in India's financial capital that New Delhi says were carried out by gunmen linked to a banned Pakistan-based militant group.
The debate, whose first day was marked by assurances of opposition support in facing the situation, came after parliamentary group leaders of the two sides overcame a potentially divisive issue by agreeing to let the house standing committee on education probe an alleged favour won by a daughter of Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar to be able to get admission in a medical college, despite an apex court judge's restraining order seen by critics as a challenge to parliamentary supremacy.
"There is no doubt that parliament is supreme, and the Constitution is supreme," Speaker Fehmida Mirza declared after a fervent call by opposition leader Nisar Ali Khan to members to uphold the supremacy of parliament over other organs of the state and some supportive speeches from both sides of the political divide before the house suspended regular business to begin the debate on the Mumbai-related situation on a motion moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan.
The debate will continue on Tuesday when the house will reassemble at 3pm.
Prime Minister Gilani, speaking in Urdu, recalled Islamabad's contacts with foreign leaders over Indian allegations that the 10 gunmen who carried out the attacks were linked to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, stressing that Pakistan was a responsible nuclear state, and said: "I assure this house and the people of Pakistan that we don't want war, but if it were imposed on us then we will stand up to it as a self-respecting nation."
He said Pakistan's sovereignty and integrity would be protected for which "our armed forces are fully prepared and alert", and added: "The military and the whole nation are united (for this objective)."
Mr Gilani acknowledged that Pakistan was put on "some weak ground" by last week's UN Security Council resolution ordering sanctions against Jamaatud Dawa as a perceived front of Lashkar-e-Taiba, but said: "We are not on the defensive."He said he would also assure the world through this house that "we will not allow our territory to be used for terrorism".
Referring to a crackdown launched against Jamaatud Dawa, he said some actions had to be taken as a consequence of the Security Council resolution, but added that "welfare activities" of the group would be allowed to be carried out by changed management "boards".
He was greeted with desk-thumping cheers when he repeated his Sunday's statement that he had declined a demand by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to allow British investigators to interrogate detained Dawa leaders and said this would be done by Pakistan's own investigators.
Pakistan Muslim League-N's Javed Hashmi said the whole nation would support the government in the defence of the country but cautioned against what he called making "our institutions sacrificial goats".
Pakistan Muslim League-Q's parliamentary leader Faisal Saleh Hayat said the nation would stand behind the government if it reviewed the "parameters of its foreign policy" which, according to him, had resulted in a slide for the country over the past seven to eight months.Muttahida Qaumi Movement's deputy parliamentary leader Haider Abbas Rizvi called for a united fight by Pakistan, India and Afghanistan against the "monster of terrorism" which, he said, appeared to be destabilising the whole region.
Former interior minister and PPP-S leader Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who sounded somewhat hawkish, urged the government not to come under "Indian pressure" and assured it his party's support if correct decisions were taken.
India prepared for strike on Pakistan: US media
The United States believes that India's air force began preliminary preparations for a possible attack against Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of the recent massacre in Mumbai, a US news channel reported on Monday.
Three Pentagon officials individually confirmed that the United States had information indicating that India began to prepare air force personnel for a possible mission.
The officials offered very few details, but one said India's air force "went on alert." This is the first publicly known indication that perhaps the two nuclear powers were closer to conflict in the days after the Mumbai attacks than previously acknowledged.
A second official said the United States concluded these preliminary preparations would have put India quickly in the position to launch airstrikes against suspected terrorist camps and targets inside Pakistan. During these preparations, a number of senior U.S. officials were urging India to exercise restraint -- which apparently it did.
Until now, the Bush Administration has publicly said it saw no signs of military movement by India and no indication that the Indian government was preparing any type of retaliation.
The Pentagon officials broadly described the activity as checking on the status of crews, fighter jets and weapons that were available. The extent of the reported preparation was not immediately known.
Also, one of the Pentagon officials confirmed that the United States has intelligence indicating a single Indian aircraft violated Pakistani airspace twice on Saturday. The United States believes the incursion was inadvertent, the official said, adding that there is no information to indicate it was planned.
Ajmal Kasab kidnapped by Indian agencies from Nepal
A Pakistani lawyer C M Farooque claimed that many people, including Ajmal Kasab, were arrested before 2006 from Kathmandu by the Indian agencies with the help of Nepalese forces.
He said Ajmal Kasab went to the Napalese capital on a business tour. His application regarding his arrest was lying pending in the Nepalese Supreme Court in which a reply was sought from Nepalese forces and Indian High Commission.
While talking to the Geo News, C M Farooque Advocate said the Nepalese forces arrested almost 200 people including Ajmal Kasab before 2006 and his application in this regard was lying pending in the Nepalese Supreme Court in which Nepalese forces and Indian High Commission were made respondents.
The advocate said he wrote letters to Pakistan and Indian governments in this regard. He said that he had also addressed a press conference in Nepal highlighting the issue in which he revealed that the Nepalese forces arrested Ajmal Kasab and many others and held them at an unknown place and that these people would be used for their ulterior designs at some later stage. He said that he had no contact with Ajmal Kasab ever since he disappeared.
The lawyer said he was still pleading the case of Kasab and was to visit Nepal towards the end of this month. The Nepalese Supreme Court had repeatedly issued notices to the respondents to furnish their reply but they did not submit any reply.
Advocate Farooque said he had filed the petition in the Nepalese Supreme Court in February 2008. He said he was running an NGO, 'Voice of Human and Prisoners Rights' and the parents of Ajmal Kasab contacted him for help in this regard after appealing to the Pakistan Government for help.
The people arrested in Nepal had gone there on legal visa for business but Indian agencies were in the habit of capturing Pakistanis from Nepal and afterwards implicated them in the Mumbai-like incidents to malign Pakistan-GEO NEWS
Pak offer to send delegation to India, joint investigations
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has offered India to set up joint investigations for Mumbai attacks and sending a delegation headed by foreign minister to chalk out joint strategy against terrorism.
Talking to media here, foreign minister said Pakistan want to resolve issue through dialogue and is cooperating with India in every aspect.
Pakistan imposed ban on Jamaat-ud- Daawa in accordance with United Nations resolution. Its offices have been sealed and leaders have been arrested.
Indian Deputy Foreign Minister Anand Sharma while addressing a press conference said India has shown great tolerance after Mumbai attacks.
Brown blames LeT for Mumbai attacks
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered help to Pakistan and India on Sunday in investigating the Mumbai attacks. He also offered a new “pact against terror”.
Stressing the need for dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi, Mr Brown said tension and conflict would achieve nothing.
Addressing a press conference at the President’s House after talks with President Asif Ali Zadari at the President House, he urged Pakistan to provide British investigators access to people detained during a crackdown on Jamaatud Dawa, including its chief Hafiz Saeed.
Blaming the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the Mumbai attacks, Mr Brown said: “It is now time for action, not words.”
He said that Pakistan and the UK would continue to work together on a counter-terrorism programme.
Mr Brown said although non-state actors in Pakistan had been linked with Mumbai attacks, the international community should help the country because it was one of the worst victims of terrorism with “over 50 suicide attacks inside the country during the past year”.
Mr Brown had said that British police wanted to question the suspects because at least three UK nationals were among the people killed in Mumbai.
He said President Zardari had assured him that action would be taken against anyone found involved in the Mumbai attacks, adding that other steps would be taken for a better dialogue mechanism to remove misunderstandings with India.
Proposing a new British-Pakistan pact against terror, Mr Brown said: “Three-quarters of most serious terrorist plots investigated by British authorities have links to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.”
Announcing a grant of £6 million for upgrading security apparatus, he said: “We have asked Pakistan to utilise this money for the purchase of car bomb detectors and scanners and training of the bomb disposal squads, airport security, counter-terrorism measures and improvement of police and forensics capabilities.” President Asif Zardari said terrorism was a regional problem and there was a need for broader international cooperation. “Pakistan has already offered joint investigation to India regarding the Mumbai attacks,” he said. “We are also victims of terrorism and feel the pain of the people of Mumbai.” He said joint investigations were an opportunity for Pakistan to cooperate with India.
The president said that although India had not provided any evidence to Pakistan about involvement of any Pakistani in the attacks, the government had started an investigation on its own.
“If there is any evidence that culprits of the Mumbai attack are in Pakistan, action will be taken against them,” Mr Zardari is reported to have told the British Prime Minister.
Cross-border terrorist hunt illegal: India’s CJ
The Chief Justice of India has counselled restraint in the concept of hot pursuit in cross-border hunt for terrorists, advocating instead a new legal definition for terrorism that could boost international cooperation, instead of violating sovereignty of maligned nations.
“From our recent experience, we have learnt that terrorist attacks against innocent and unsuspecting civilians threaten the preservation of rule of law as well as human rights and terrorism can broadly be identified with the use of violent methods in place of the ordinary tools of civic engagement and political participation,” Justice K.G. Balakrishnan told an international conference on human rights on Saturday.
He said that while the conduct and consequences of armed conflicts between nations — such as wars and border-skirmishes — were regulated by international criminal law and humanitarian law, the occurrence of internal disturbances within a nation were largely considered to be the subject-matter of that particular nation’s domestic criminal justice system and constitutional principles.
“In the absence of bilateral treaties for extradition or assistance in investigation, there is no clear legal basis for international cooperation in investigating terrorist attacks — which are usually classified as internal disturbances in the nation where they took place. Since there are no clear and consistent norms to guide collaboration between nations in acting against terrorists, countries like the United States have invented their own doctrines such as ‘pre-emptive action’ to justify counter-terrorism operations in foreign nations,” Justice Balakrishnan told the meeting, which was attended also by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
However, he added, “the pursuit of terrorists alone cannot be a justification for arbitrarily breaching another nation’s sovereignty.
In this scenario, one strategy that has been suggested is that of recognising terrorist attacks as coming within a new ‘hybrid’ category of armed conflict, wherein obligations can be placed on different countries to collaborate in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks that have taken place in a particular country. This calls for a blurring of the distinction between the international and domestic nature of armed conflict when it comes to terrorist strikes.”
A practical constraint that has been brought to the fore with the Mumbai attacks has been the question of holding governments responsible for the actions of non-state actors.
“While one can say that there is a moral duty on all governments to prevent and restrain the activities of militant groups on their soil, the same is easier said than done,” the head of India’s Supreme Court said. For example, he said, several terrorist groups are able to organise financial support and procure weapons even in Western nations where it is perceived that policing and criminal justice systems are relatively stronger than the Subcontinent.
Justice Balakrishnan voiced concern at the controversial media coverage of the Mumbai terror attack.
“The symbolic impact of terrorist attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens has also been considerably amplified by the role of pervasive media coverage. One of the ill-effects of unrestrained coverage is that of provoking anger amongst the masses,” he said.
He warned that the trauma resulting from the terrorist attacks may be used as a justification for undue curtailment of individual rights and liberties.
“Instead of offering a considered response to the growth of terrorism, a country may resort to questionable methods such as permitting indefinite detention of terror suspects, the use of coercive interrogation techniques and the denial of the right to fair trial.”
The remarks are being seen as criticism of advocacy by a former BJP minister to not allow legal help to alleged terrorists.
“Outside the criminal justice system, the fear generated by terrorist attacks may also be linked to increasing governmental surveillance over citizens and unfair restrictions on immigration,” Justice Balakrishnan observed.
“In recent years, the most prominent example of this ‘slippery-slope’ for the curtailment of individual rights is the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay who were arrested by US authorities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.”
With the Mumbai attacks fresh in public mind Justice Balakrishnan’s comments were inevitably reflective of the impact it had on the response of the thinking judges.
“The apprehension and interrogation of terror suspects must also be done in a thoroughly professional manner, with the provision of adequate judicial scrutiny as mandated in the Code of Criminal Procedure.”
This was required, the judge said, because in recent counter-terrorist operations, there have been several reports of arbitrary arrests of individuals belonging to certain communities and the concoction of evidence – such as the production of similarly worded confession statements by detained suspects in different places.
“The proposal for the admissibility of confessional statements made before the police is also problematic since there are fears that such a change will incentivise torture and coercive interrogation by investigative agencies in order to seek convictions rather than engaging in thorough investigation.”Adherence to the constitutional principle of ‘substantive due process’ was an essential part of our collective response to terrorism.
“As part of the legal community, we must uphold the right to fair trial for all individuals, irrespective of how heinous their crimes may be. If we accept a dilution of this right, it will count as a moral loss against those who preach hatred and violence.”
Singh wants ties with Pakistan normalised
India’s prime minister said on Sunday he wanted normalised relations with Pakistan amid rising tensions between the South Asian rivals following Mumbai attacks that left more than 160 people dead.
Addressing an election rally in occupied Kashmir, Mr Manmohan Singh said he hoped relations between the neighbours could be “normalised,” but this could not happen until “our neighbour stops allowing its territory to be used for acts of terrorism against India.”
Mr Singh travelled to Khundru town in Kashmir after a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in New Delhi. The two leaders discussed the attacks on Mumbai, which have been blamed on a Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
India has called on Pakistan to crack down on militant groups operating out of Pakistan.
Pakistan has carried out raids on a charity linked to Lashkar, but also urged India to provide further evidence.
Thousands of soldiers used barbed wire and metal barricades to seal off all approach roads to Khundru ahead of Mr Singh’s visit.
The prime minister addressed the rally ahead of the sixth of seven rounds of voting in state elections. The elections for held Kashmir’s state legislature started on Nov 17 and end Dec 24. Voters cast their ballots in the fifth phase on Saturday as scattered clashes between protesters and government forces left one person dead.
Khundru lies just south of Srinagar and it was largely deserted on Sunday in response to a strike called by All Parties Hurriyet Conference to protest against Mr Singh’s visit.
Indian planes intrude into Pakistan’s airspace
Indian planes violated Pakistan’s airspace on Saturday, but fighters of the Pakistan Air Force chased them away, military as well as civilian officials confirmed late in the night.
Air Commodre Humayun Viqar Zephyr, a PAF spokesman, told Local Daily that the Indian planes intruded into Pakistan’s airspace in Azad Kashmir and Lahore sectors, but left as soon as they sighted the PAF jets.
He said there was no cause for concern as the PAF was “fully alive to the situation and capable of giving a befitting reply in case of a misadventure”.
Official sources said President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani were immediately informed about the incident and the matter was taken up with the Indian authorities.
Information Minister Sherry Rehman confirmed that Islamabad had got in touch with authorities in New Delhi, implicitly conceding that the violation did take place. But she hastened to add that Indians had done it inadvertently.
Analysts, however, described as ‘meaningful’ the ‘inadvertent’ intrusion of Pakistan’s airspace in two different sectors on the same day for the first time in recent memory.
They termed it a deliberate attempt on the part of India to create a war hysteria instead of responding positively to Pakistan’s offers of cooperation in investigations into the Mumbai carnage.
CJCSC MEETS PRESIDENT: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Tariq Majeed, called on President Asif Ali Zardari here on Saturday and discussed professional matters with him.
Sources said the situation in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks came under discussion during the meeting.
They said Gen Majeed briefed the president on the state of preparedness of the armed forces.
TROOPS ON THE MOVE?: A number of people travelling between Lahore and Rawalpindi over the past two days have come up with claims that a heavy redeployment by the army was under way.
“Long convoys of military trucks are heading towards Lahore from Jehlum,” Jawad Khan, a motorist, told Local Daily.
No evidence against Dawa
Shah Mahmoud Qureshi said there was no evidence that Jamaatud Dawa was engaged in any acts of violence.
“If there is evidence (of terror activities) we will take action,” he said when asked about the Jamaat, accused of being a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group India blames for recent attacks in Mumbai.
“They’re running schools, hospitals, dispensaries... but if this organisation or elements in it are getting into a mode of violence,” then authorities will take action, Qureshi said on a trip to Paris.
“Our minds are not shut,” he told reporters on the eve of a meeting on Afghanistan
Delhi looking for scapegoat: FM
Pakistan on Saturday rejected Indian accusations that it was the “epicentre of terrorism” and accused some Indian leaders of using it as a convenient scapegoat for their own political agendas.
“Because of domestic political compulsions, some Indian leaders have been looking for a scapegoat” for the recent Mumbai attacks, its foreign minister said when asked to react to the Indian prime minister’s accusation.
“And when you want a scapegoat, Pakistan is (for historical reasons) the obvious choice,” Shah Mahmoud Qureshi told reporters in Paris, adding that “we have to rise above our petty politics for the larger interest of the region.”
He did not name any of the Indian leaders he was referring to.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the accusation on Thursday and also said his country could not be satisfied with “mere assurances on an end to terror emanating from Pakistan”.
Qureshi said Islamabad was at the forefront of the global fight against terror and noted that “India does not blame the Pakistani government” for last month’s carnage in Mumbai that left 172 people dead.
He said Islamabad was doing its utmost to crack down on any terrorist groups on its territory, adding that Pakistan had offered to send a high-level team to carry out a joint probe with Indian officials into the attacks.
“We’ve made an offer. We’re waiting for their response,” he said, speaking on the eve of a meeting in Paris of senior envoys from Afghanistan, its neighbours and the world’s great powers to discuss the war-torn country’s future.
The talks will put Qureshi in the same room as Indian deputy foreign minister Anand Sharma, but he said that neither he nor the Indian minister had requested a bilateral meeting in Paris.
Qureshi noted that “one of the pillars” of the recently elected government in Pakistan was normalisation of relations with its giant neighbour.
India did not present evidences of Mumbai attacks: SM Qureshi
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan would not allow to use its territory for terrorism.
Giving the policy statement at the foreign office, he said that India did not present any evidence of the Mumbai attacks despite Pakistan’s request.
He said that Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism and it is making serious efforts for the elimination of terrorism in the region.
The foreign minister told that investigations against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa are already going on but solid evidences are required for further investigations regarding the Mumbai attacks.
He said that Pakistan would itself address all matters relating to terrorism according to the law.
Pakistan urged to root out ‘epicentre of terror’
India’s parliament united behind the shaken government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday who apologised for the lapses that allowed armed militants to raid Mumbai at will and he held Pakistan accountable for the outrage which he said was executed from its soil.
The daylong debate in the Lok Sabha saw Leader of Opposition Lal Kishan Advani expressing his fear over the move to take the issue to the UN Security Council, saying it could end up internationalising the Kashmir issue.
The discussion also put the spotlight on Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi, often projected as a likely successor to Dr Singh should the party win the general elections in April. “It is not enough for us to protect the people,” Mr Gandhi said. “We should go one step beyond. People who have done this should understand very clearly that not only do we hold lives of our people highly, but there is also a cost to killing innocent Indians,” he told a charged house amid applause. When the terrorists attacked Mumbai, they did not attack the young or the old, Hindus or Muslims, upper or lower castes but Indians, he said. “If our enemies view us as one, we have to act as one. We will fight this war against terror and win this war.”
To make sure the war was being declared on terror and not on Pakistan, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee clarified: “I am making it quite clear that it (war) is not a solution.” He said India was building up an international campaign against terror and would try to put adequate pressure on Pakistan to act.
Mr Mukherjee said that Pakistan must act against terror groups based on its soil and stop them from launching attacks against India. “Controllers of Mumbai attacks were in Pakistan. Islamabad should act against them. Pakistan must be forced to act against terrorists. There is irrefutable proof the epicentre of this attack, and not only this one but many more, are in our neighbouring country,” said Mr Mukherjee.
The minister said Pakistan had willingly given shelter to criminals and terrorists wanted in India and added that it had failed to hand over underworld don Dawood Ibrahim despite repeated demands made by India. “India has demanded arrest and handing over of 40 terrorists taking shelter in Pakistan. Islamabad should seriously act and not be in a denial mode,” he said.
Mr Mukherjee rubbished Pakistan’s claims that terrorists were non-state actors. “Question is not of the non-state actors. Are they coming from heaven or from a different planet? They are located in the territory of a particular country. We are suggesting to Pakistan, please act. Mere expression of intention is not adequate.”
He also demanded that Pakistan put in legal or police custody Jaish-i-Mohammad’s chief Maulana Masood Azhar and also fulfil India’s demands of arresting Lashkar-i-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed.
“I was told by an international interlocutor that Hafiz Saeed was arrested and now after some time I heard from our mission that he’s appearing on TV. Azhar has been house arrested. What does it mean by house arrest?” he asked.
He wanted Islamabad to take “serious” action to completely dismantle terror infrastructure and end infiltration. Mr Mukherjee also slammed Pakistan for creating “war hysteria” by indulging in “propaganda” on the basis of a hoax call that “big power” India was going to attack.
Responding to Mr Advani’s concern that the discussion of the matter at the UN could result in the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue, Mr Mukherjee outlined India’s official policy and said the country would reject all attempts to link the Kashmir dispute with cross-border terrorism.
In a rare show of unity with the government, Mr Advani lauded Home Minister P. Chidamabaram’s promise to take unspecified hard measures to combat terrorism. “The home minister has talked of taking hard decisions. Whatever steps you take which would help win the war on terror, my party and the NDA will support them,” Mr Advani said.
He too stressed that the “epicentre” of terrorism against India was in Pakistan and that the ISI was also a “non-state actor” as it was “not under the control of the elected government in Pakistan and is answerable only to the Pakistan Army”.
The prime minister wound up the debate with an apology to the nation. “On behalf of the government, I would like to apologise to our people that this dastardly act could not be prevented.”
A resolution passed unanimously by the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha expressed “unequivocal condemnation of the heinous terrorist attacks in Mumbai by terrorist elements from Pakistan, claiming hundreds of innocent lives and seeking to destroy the values that India stands for.”
It said the outrage followed acts of terror committed since the beginning of the current year in various places across India and against the Indian embassy in Kabul.
It noted “with deep concern the fact that Lashkar-i-Taiba, a terrorist organisation that is listed in the UN Security Council Resolution 1,267 and is banned in Pakistan, has continued to operate and launch terrorist attacks against India.”
It resolved that “India shall not cease her efforts until the terrorists and those who have trained, funded and abetted them are exposed and brought to justice.”
Crackdown hints at Faridkot-Mumbai link
The targeting of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa and the rounding up of the activists belonging to the two jihadi organisations appear to have been triggered by information originating in India following the capture of one of the 10 men who attacked several targets in Mumbai towards the end of last month.
During the course of Dawn’s own investigations last week our reporters were able to locate a family who claimed to be the kin of the arrested young man in Mumbai.
The sole survivor among the 10 attackers was named as Ajmal Kasab and was supposed to belong to the village Faridkot in the Punjab. Media organisations such as the BBC and now the British newspaper Observer have done reports trying to ascertain the veracity of claims appearing in the media that the young man had a home there.
On Friday last, the BBC reported unusual activity in Faridkot near Deepalpur. A BBC correspondent located a house in the village, the then inhabitants of which carried the surname of Kasab (or Qasab as the word is often spelt here). But the residents denied any link with either Ajmal or with any Amir Kasab, the name of Ajmal’s father as reported by some of the media.
At the weekend, the Observer in England claimed that it had managed to locate the house everyone was looking for so desperately. Its correspondent said he had got hold of the voters’ roll which had the names of Amir Kasab and his wife, identified as Noor, as well as the numbers on the identity cards the couple carried.
Even though the news stories by both BBC and the Observer made a mention of the LeT, some television channels in Pakistan suggested that a connection between Mumbai and Faridkot could not be established beyond a shadow of doubt.
However, the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son.
For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.
“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.
“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”
Variously addressed as Azam, Iman, Kamal and Kasav, the young man, apparently in his 20s, is being kept in custody at an undisclosed place in Mumbai.
Indian media reports ‘based on intelligence sources’ said the man was said to be a former Faridkot resident who left home a frustrated teenager about four years ago and went to Lahore.
After his brush with crime and criminals in Lahore, he is said to have run into and joined a religious group during a visit to Rawalpindi.
Along with others, claimed the Indian media, he was trained in fighting. And after a crash course in navigation, said Amir Kasab, a father of three sons and two daughters, Ajmal disappeared from home four years ago.
“He had asked me for new clothes on Eid that I couldn’t provide him. He got angry and left.”
While Amir was talking, Ajmal’s two “sisters and a younger brother” were lurking about. To Amir’s right, on a nearby charpoy, sat their mother, wrapped in a chador and in a world of her own. Her trance was broken as the small picture of Ajmal lying in a Mumbai hospital was shown around. They appeared to have identified their son. The mother shrunk back in her chador but the father said he had no problem in talking about the subject.
Amir Kasab said he had settled in Faridkot after arriving from the nearby Haveli Lakha many years ago. He owned the house and made his earnings by selling pakoras in the streets of the village.
He modestly pointed to a hand-cart in one corner of the courtyard. “This is all I have. I shifted back to the village after doing the same job in Lahore.
“My eldest son, Afzal, is also back after a stint in Lahore. He is out working in the fields.”
Faridkot is far from the urbanites’ idea of a remote village. It is located right off a busy road and bears all the characteristics of a lower-middle class locality in a big city.
It has two middle-level schools, one for girls and the other for boys which Ajmal attended as a young boy. For higher standards, the students have to enroll in schools in Deepalpur which is not as far off as the word remote tends to indicate.
It by no means qualifies as Punjab’s backwaters, which makes the young Ajmal’s graduation to an international “fearmonger” even more difficult to understand. The area can do with cleaner streets and a better sewage system but the brick houses towards the side of the Kasur-Deepalpur road have a more organised look to them than is the case with most Pakistani villages.
The Observer newspaper reports that some locals seeking anonymity say the area is a hunting ground for the recruiters of LeT and provides the organisation with rich pickings.
The approach to Faridkot also points to at least some opportunities for those looking for a job. There are some factories in the surroundings, rice mills et al, interspersed with fertile land. But for the gravity of the situation, with its mellowed and welcoming ambience, the picture could be serene.
It is not and Amir Kasab repeats how little role he has had in the scheme since the day his son walked out on him. He calls the people who snatched Ajmal from him his enemies but has no clue who these enemies are. Asked why he didn’t look for his son all this while, he counters: “What could I do with the few resources that I had?”
Otherwise quite forthcoming in his answers, Amir Kasab, a mild-mannered soul, is a bit agitated at the mention of the link between his son’s actions and money. Indian media has claimed that Ajmal’s handlers had promised him that his family will be compensated with Rs150,000 (one and a half lakh) after the completion of the Mumbai mission.
“I don’t sell my sons,” he retorts.
Journalists visiting Faridkot since Dawn reporters were at the village say the family has moved from their home and some relatives now live in the house. Perhaps fearing a media invasion, nobody is willing to say where the family has gone-DAWN
Mumbai Attacks: INDO-PAK Tension.. MORE