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Pakistan says Kasab should be hanged, but hedges on Hafiz Saeed

Addu (Maldives), Nov 10 (IANS) Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik Thursday sprang a surprise by saying Ajmal Amir Kasab, convicted by an Indian court for the 26/11 terror attack, should be hanged, but hedged on the release of Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of Mumbai terror, saying more legal evidence is required.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 | 2:25:38 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Addu (Maldives), Nov 10 (IANS) Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik Thursday sprang a surprise by saying Ajmal Amir Kasab, convicted by an Indian court for the 26/11 terror attack, should be hanged, but hedged on the release of Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of Mumbai terror, saying more legal evidence is required.

'Kasab is a terrorist, a non-state actor who should go to gallows and his accomplices too. So should perpetrators of the Samjhauta Express blast,' said Malik after the delegation-level talks led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani here.

He was speaking to reporters even as Manmohan Singh and Gilani sat closeted for one-on-one talks in a beach cottage on the Indian Ocean island.

Malik said that the judicial commission from Pakistan should visit India soon in connection with the Mumbai terror attacks and stressed that its report will quicken the trial of seven 26/11 terrorists in Pakistani custody.

'Once that commission will go to India, its findings are important for the judicial process in Pakistan. When the findings are there, they will be covering all the legal sides. Then there will be some judicially-satisfactory statement,' he said.

When asked how long the judicial commission would stay in India, Malik said it would be there as long as 'you can accept them as guest.'

When asked about the timeframe for the trial of 26/11 accused, Malik said as soon as the commissions's report comes, the process will begin 'but it is too early to say how'.

Kasab has been sentenced to death for his role in the 26/11 terror, but his execution has been stayed by India's Supreme Court that issued a notice to the Maharashtra state government on the terrorist's plea. The Supreme Court will hear Kasab's case regularly from Jan 31, 2012.

The judicial commission report, Malik said, would help plug the legal lacuna and move forward the trial of those accused in the Nov 26 Mumbai assault.

The judicial commission is expected to visit India later this month. India's Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said India will respond soon on the dates of the proposed visit.

The commission is expected to record the statements of Mumbai Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule and investigating officer Ramesh Mahale, who had recorded the confessional statement of Kasab, convicted of the terror attack.

Islamabad has contended that the charges against seven LeT militants, including its 'operation commander' Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who are currently lodged in a Pakistani jail, were based on Kasab's statement and hence the magistrate and the investigating officer's statements were necessary to furnish before the anti-terror court.

At least 166 people were killed in the 26/11 attack by 10 Pakistan-based terrorists in Mumbai.

However, Malik hedged on the release of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and suspected mastermind of the Mumbai siege and cited intricacies of the judicial system.

'He was bailed out by the highest court of Pakistan and the government can't do anything about it,' he said.

'A list of banned organisations was issued before Id and there was no credible evidence that Jamat ud Dawa was working otherwise,' he added. 'India should give us more evidence,' he said.

India has brought to Pakistan's notice many a time, including in Thursday's talks, about the anti-India activities of Saeed and his inflammatory rhetoric, but Pakistan has been prone to take recourse to legal technicalities that have gone in Saeed's favour.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at [email protected])

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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