A Pakistani judicial commission will visit India during February 3-6 to interview officials who were involved in the investigation of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday. Malik announced the dates for the commission's visit during a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal at the interior ministry, official sources said.
India had earlier suggested to Pakistan that the judicial commission should visit during the first half of February. Malik announced the date for the visit after the completion of various technical formalities, including the selection of the officials who would be included in the panel, the sources said.
During their meeting, Malik and the Indian envoy discussed progress in the probe into the Mumbai attacks, including the trial of seven Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the incident, and other aspects of bilateral relations.
Pakistani officials have said that the judicial commission's visit to India is imperative to take forward the prosecution of the seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, whose trial has virtually stalled for the past year. Defence lawyers have raised questions about the admissibility of the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, in a Pakistani court. Kasab's confessional statement, recorded by an Indian magistrate, is a key piece of evidence for the Pakistani prosecutors.
The Pakistani commission will interview the police officer who led the probe into the Mumbai incident, the magistrate who recorded Kasab's confession, and doctors who conducted the autopsies of victims and nine terrorists who were killed during the attacks.
A recent gazette notification listed the members who would represent the Pakistan government in the commission. They include Khalid Qureshi, the head of the Federal Investigation Agency's special investigation group, and Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Zulifqar, the two main prosecutors.
At least five defence lawyers are also expected to be part of the commission. Lakhvi's lawyer died recently and he has been directed by the court to name a new counsel by January 28. The seven Pakistani suspects have been charged with planning, financing and coordinating the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008.