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'Pakistanis' arrest not linked with blasts'
K J M Varma in Islamabad
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July 16, 2006 15:25 IST

Pakistan has said the arrest of two of its nationals in Nepal was not linked with the Mumbai serial blasts and that the duo was held in connection with a case dating back to 2001.

Reacting to media reports about the arrest of two Pakistanis in Nepal, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam in Islamabad said the Pakistani mission in Kathmandu had been instructed to immediately get in touch with the Nepalese Foreign Office to ascertain facts.

"Our mission was later contacted by the Nepalese police authorities who confirmed that the arrest of two Pakistanis was in connection with an old case dating back to 2001 and that no linkage had been established with the Mumbai blasts," she said in a statement.

The Foreign Office also called the Nepalese Charge d'Affaires in Islamabad to make a demarche, asking for consular access and release of the pair.

Media reports from Nepal said the two Pakistanis -- Aftar Moiddin Siddiqui and Gulam Hussain Cheema -- were arrested in connection with a five-year-old case of seizure of 16 kilogram of RDX and were being investigated if they had any link with the July 11 Mumbai blasts, which left about 200 people dead.

The duo was remanded to five days of judicial custody by a Nepalese court on Friday. Aslam said the two arrested Pakistanis were employees of Sachal Engineering Works -- that worked on a road construction project with the Nepalese government some years ago.

The company claimed that the two persons had nothing to do with the 2001 case also and had visited Nepal several times for recovery of outstanding payments to it by the Nepalese Roads and Works Department. Aslam said the pair had gone to Nepal on July 8 for the same purpose after seeking prior appointment with the concerned Nepalese department. "We are in touch with the Nepalese side through diplomatic channels in this matter," she said.

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