India Must Provide More Evidence On Lakhvi: Pakistan

13/07/2015 11:29 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
AAMIR QURESHI via Getty Images
Pakistani security personnel escort Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, leaves the court after a hearing in Islamabad on January 1, 2015. Pakistan on January 1, approached the country's supreme court to stop the release of alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks whose detention order was this week suspended by a high court, a government prosecutor said. AFP PHOTO/ Aamir QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Just three days after the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed a "breakthrough" in bilateral talks between India and Pakistan, the two neighbours have fallen out over a vital aspect of their agreement on how to "expedite the Mumbai case trial," which continues to be a thorn in their relations.

On Monday, Sartaj Aziz, national security advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said India has to provide Pakistan with more evidence for its government to prosecute alleged 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

A joint statement issued on Friday after Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for an hour-long discussion on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Ufa, Russia, said, "Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite the Mumbai case trial including additional information like providing voice samples."

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India remains deeply frustrated at Pakistan's failure to prosecute Lakhvi in the six years since the Mumbai attacks claimed 166 lives. The alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on Dec. 18 -- just two days after the Taliban attacked school children in Peshawar.

In April, Lakhvi walked out of jail after the Lahore High Court ruled the detention order against him was unjustified.

BJP's R.K. Singh said that Aziz's remarks defied logic.

On Sunday, Chaudhry Azhar, who is in-charge of the Pakistan's prosecution case against Lakhvi, said the government will not file a fresh petition to obtain the LeT commander's voice samples.

"The issue of obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi has been over. We had filed an application in the trial court in 2011, seeking voice sample of Lakhvi but the judge (Malik Akram Awan) had dismissed it on the ground that no such law exists that allows obtaining of voice sample of an accused," Azhar told the media in Lahore.

"The government will not file a fresh petition in the trial court requesting for obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi," he said.

Rizwan Abbasi, Lakhvi's lawyer, said his client, who walked out of jail in April after the Lahore High Court quashed his detention order, will not consent to giving a voice sample. “According to our law, consent was necessary for a voice sample. My client has refused in the past and will refuse again,” he said.

But Pakistan officials reportedly assured India that voice sample can be taken under the Investigation for a Fair trial Act, 2013, which gives the government special powers in surveillance and recording of terror suspects, The Hindu reported.

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam also said on Monday that voice samples can be collected under the 2013 Act. "The issue is that they don't want to give Lakhvi's voice sample," he told ANI.

India and Pakistan have also exposed their own confusion about what exactly they agreed to in their joint statement in Russia. Both sides expect the other to provide evidence to strengthen the case against Lakhvi.

“Pakistan has included the Mumbai issue in the joint statement because we wanted India to provide us ‘solid evidence’ against the accused for their prosecution," Pervaiz Rashid, Pakistan's information minister, said over the weekend.

The Hindu reported that Indian officials said, “Pakistan will give India voice samples of Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi to be matched with intelligence inputs [of commanders directing Ajmal Kasab and other attackers on the phone] to prove that he directed the attack."

Meanwhile, the Congress Party continues to mock the BJP over dubbing the talks as a "breakthrough."

Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that Pakistan has "no intention" of conducting a dialogue with India.

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