Mumbai attacks: Pak panel likely to visit India by mid-Feb

Pakistani judicial panel is expected to make second visit in Mumbai by mid-February to probe the 26/11 attacks.

Islamabad, Jan 31: A Pakistani judicial panel is expected to make a second visit to Mumbai by mid-February after being given a green signal by India to cross-examine four officials in connection with the probe into the 26/11 attacks.

India has okayed the visit of the judicial commission, which would travel to Mumbai without any delay, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told a news conference here last night.

Though he did not give a date, sources said the commission is expected to travel to Mumbai by mid-February.

The commission had visited India in March last year but its findings were rejected by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven suspects, including LeT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, because the panel did not have the power to cross-examine four key witnesses.

Following negotiations between officials of the two countries in December, India agreed to allow the Pakistani commission to cross-examine the police officer who led the probe into the Mumbai attacks, the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, and two doctors who performed the autopsies of the attackers.

Kasab was hanged last year in a jail in Pune.

Malik said Pakistan had decided to send the commission to India but there were “some legal requirements” which would be followed.

He said he had directed the Interior Secretary to issue a notification regarding the commission’s visit at the earliest.

The anti-terrorism court will also be approached to issue a fresh order regarding the panel’s visit.

Malik said the commission will comprise the same persons who had visited India last year.

Thanking Indian authorities, especially Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, for allowing the panel’s visit, he said: “This is a good omen as we are working together to eliminate terrorism, which has affected the people of the region”.

He also claimed that the trial of the seven Pakistani suspects was in the “final stages” as some 20 witnesses had testified and been cross-examined.

The remaining witnesses were expected to be examined within two months, Malik added.