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'Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim not in Pakistan'
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December 17, 2008 19:31 IST
Last Updated: December 17, 2008 19:59 IST

Contradicting Defence Minister Chaudhary Mukhtar Ahmad, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik on Wednesday said that Jaish-e-Mohmmad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, one of India's most-wanted terrorists, was not under house arrest and his whereabouts were not known to them.

"We are looking for him. He is not under house arrest. As far as I know, it (news reports of Azhar's house arrest) is wrong. He is not in Pakistan...We don't know where he is," Malik told a TV channel.

He was responding to a question on why Pakistan cannot hand over Azhar, who walked into freedom from an Indian prison in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane, as he was already in Pakistan custody.

Malik's statement was in contradiction to Ahmad's interview to a TV channel a week ago, when he had said Azhar was placed under house arrest but said that he would not be handed over to India.

The High Commissioner claimed that Dawood Ibrahim [Images], the prime accused in the 1993 serial blasts case, was also not in Pakistan, as claimed by New Delhi [Images].

Asked whether it will extradite the don if India provides proof of Dawood's presence in Pakistan, Malik said, "Fact of the matter is that he is not in Pakistan."

Malik also claimed that the Inter Services Intelligence has no links with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, which is believed to be behind the Mumbai terror attacks [Images].

Malik claimed that the Pakistan High Commission has not received any letter from Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone terrorist arrested in Mumbai attacks, seeking legal aid and persisted with its denial mode on his Pakistani nationality, saying it needed 'incontrovertible' evidence about it.

"Please don't give too much importance to newspaper reports. No letter has been delivered to me or to the Pakistan High Commission," he said.

The High Commissioner was asked about the accused's father accepting, after seeing photographs in newspapers and television, that the terrorist is his son.

"Not when it comes to dealing with such individuals... We need something which is incontrovertible, which cannot be challenged in a court of law," he said.

Malik said Pakistan was not contemplating giving access to Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for investigation.

"At the moment, we are not contemplating it...Please allow us to carry forward the process of investigation and see whether there is any merit in involving others or not," he said.

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