In the middle of Islamabad’s apparent clampdown on UN designated terrorists, the Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan seems to have hit another roadblock with the Imran Khan government not responding to India’s offer to host a judicial commission for examining witnesses in Mumbai.
Official sources said Pakistan had ignored India’s offer to facilitate the questioning of remaining 27 witnesses in the case either through video conferencing or by sending a team to examine witnesses. Pakistan has instead attributed the delay in trial to India’s refusal to send witnesses to Pakistan.
As first reported by ToI on August 18 last year, the government offered to host a judicial commission after Pakistan approached India saying that the witnesses needed to testify within 90 days as per a court directive. This had raised hopes of some progress finally in the 11-year-old trial that has been marred by repeated transfer of judges and prosecution lawyers. India had later also asked Pakistan to prosecute Pakistani-American David Headley for his role in the Mumbai attacks.
With individuals like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed still not brought to justice for their role in the Mumbai attacks, India has described as farcical recent actions against these designated international terrorists. Pakistan has also refused to allow video conferencing with witnesses saying that they could be intimidated by Indian authorities while they are examined.
The Mumbai trial was initiated after Pakistan in 2009 arrested 7 men said to be directly involved in the terror attack. Apart from Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamas Sadie, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum are facing charges of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the 2008 attacks. Pakistan hasn’t booked Saeed, described by India as the mastermind, saying there isn’t enough evidence against him.
Lakhvi too got bail in 2015 after the prosecution apparently failed to present before court the evidence against him. The LeT commander has now been arrested and sentenced to 15 years in jail for terror-financing but this has nothing to do with his role in the 26/11 attacks.
The US also asked Pakistan Saturday to hold Lakhvi accountable for his involvement in 26/11 attacks. Pakistan is currently under pressure from global terror watchdog FATF to demonstrate “effective implementation” of targeted financial sanctions against all UN 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf. The Paris-based FATF will review Pakistan’s case next month and decide if it has done enough to avoid being black listed.
Raising questions about the timing of Pakistan’s actions, India had said last week that UN proscribed entities and designated terrorists were acting as proxies for Pakistani establishment to fulfill its anti-India agenda. “It is for the international community to hold Pakistan to account and ensure that it takes credible action against terror groups, terror infrastructure and individual terrorists,” said the foreign ministry in its response.