Pak consents for Indian team’s visit on Mumbai trial

Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Monday gave its consent for a team of Indian legal experts to visit Islamabad this week to finalise the terms of reference for a Pakistani judicial commission that will go to Mumbai to gather evidence on the 2008 terror attacks on the financial hub.

Pakistani officials said they had received a request from India for the visit by the delegation of legal experts on Wednesday to discuss the terms of reference for the judicial commission which is expected to visit India in the near future.

"The Pakistani government has conveyed the consent (for the Indian team's visit). The visiting delegation from India will meet the Attorney General of Pakistan and other law officers to work out the terms of reference in the light of the orders of the trial court," said an official statement issued tonight.

Diplomatic sources told PTI that a senior official of the Indian High Commission had discussed the matter with the Director General (South Asia) at the Foreign Office and received consent for the Indian team's visit.

This will be the second judicial commission formed by Pakistan to investigate and gather evidence on the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist from a 10-member LeT team that attacked Mumbai, was hanged in a Pune jail last month. Seven Pakistani suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, have been arrested and put on trial on charges of planning, financing and facilitating the attacks.

Their trial has been stalled for over a year due to a variety of technical reasons, including the use of evidence provided by India in a Pakistani court. The first judicial commission, comprising the lawyers of the seven suspects and Pakistani prosecutors, was sent to Mumbai in March to help remove these technical problems.

According to an agreement reached at the time by the Indian and Pakistani governments, this panel was not allowed to cross-examine Indian witnesses.

The report of the first judicial commission was rejected by the anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of the seven suspects after defence lawyers raised objections on the ground that they were not allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

The court declared the findings of the first judicial commission illegal.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said yesterday that the second commission could visit India on January 2 or 3 if its terms of reference are finalised by the Indian legal experts and the Pakistani Attorney General this week.