India has cleared Pak panel visit probing Mumbai attacks:Malik

Islamabad: India has cleared the second visit of a Pakistani judicial commission to cross-examine four officials in connection with the probe into the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said today.

India has given a green signal for the visit of the commission, which would travel to Mumbai without any delay, Malik told a news conference here this evening.

Though he did not give a date, sources said the commission is expected to travel to Mumbai by mid-February.

The commission had visited India in March last year but its findings were rejected by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven suspects because the panel did not have the power to cross-examine four key witnesses.

Following negotiations between officials of the two countries in December, India agreed to allow the Pakistani commission to cross-examine the police officer who led the probe into the Mumbai attacks, the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, and two doctors who performed the autopsies of the attackers.

Kasab was hanged last year in a jail in Pune.

Malik said Pakistan had decided to send the commission to India but there were "some legal requirements" which would be followed.

He said he had directed the Interior Secretary to issue a notification regarding the commission's visit at the earliest.

The anti-terrorism court will also be approached to issue a fresh order regarding the panel's visit.

Malik said the commission will comprise the same persons who had visited India last year.

Thanking Indian authorities, especially Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, for allowing the commission's visit, he said: "This is a good omen as we are working together to eliminate terrorism, which has affected the people of the region".