Pakistan will again seek access to the witnesses of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to record their statements and a formal request will be filed with India in this regard, according to a media report on Friday. This will be the second time that Pakistan will be making such a request, unnamed officials of the Interior Ministry were quoted as saying by The Express Tribune newspaper.
The Federal Investigation Agency has identified 16 Indian citizens to testify regarding information shared by Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker who has been sentenced to death by an Indian court. If permission is received from New Delhi, a two-member Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team will travel to India and also discuss matters pertaining to post-mortem reports with officials of police stations in Mumbai, the officials were quoted as saying.
The commission will also consult legal experts who are "contesting Kasab's case on behalf of the federation in the anti-terrorism court No 3 in Rawalpindi", the report said. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had requested his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram last year to allow a special team of the FIA to record statements of witnesses and key personalities, including the magistrate who recorded Kasab's confession and the police officer who led the investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people.
In a related development, an FIA investigation team has informed the Interior Minister that the probe was not making any progress "because of Indias unwillingness to allow the Pakistani commission to record Indian investigators' statements". "During investigations, Kasab told the Indian magistrate that two majors of Pakistan Army were involved in the pre-attack conspiracy," the newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
The FIA has also filed a petition in the Lahore High Court asking for Kasab and Fahim Ansari to be declared proclaimed offenders or fugitives. Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the seven accused in Pakistan, contended there was no legal basis for Pakistani investigators recording the statements of Indian nationals. "How can FIA officials record statements of Indian citizens? There is no such treaty between the two countries," he said.