Pak warns 26/11 'mastermind' Lakhvi will walk free

Lakhvi

In a veiled rebuff to India on the 26/11 trial, Pakistan is learnt to have said that Islamabad should not be held responsible if prime accused Lashkar-e-Toiba's Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi gets relief from the courts because a judicial commission failed to visit India and verify Ajmal Amir Kasab's confessional statement.

According to the latest communication from Pakistan earlier this month, Pak authorities claimed that legal action against Lakhvi is based only on Kasab's statement and it may be difficult for the prosecution to sustain the arguments without a firm decision from India on the commission.

Sources said Delhi is expected to agree to give the go-ahead to the Pakistan judicial commission while at the same time obtain an order from the trial court here to send a similar commission to Pakistan.

Pak authorities had turned down India's request to send a commission arguing that unlike their proposal, India's request was not backed by a court order. Given that there is no mutual legal assistance treaty between the two countries, such a request could not be entertained unless supported by a court order. For this purpose, the government will now approach the court concerned.

Pakistan had, under orders from the Rawalpindi trial court, requested that a three-member judicial commission — comprising a representative each from the prosecution and the defence along with a coordinator — visit India and authenticate what Kasab had said by meeting the investigating officer and the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate who recorded the statement.

In the wake of Pakistan's recent communication, the government has decided to respond by March 3. Also, an invitation to Pakistan for the Home Secretary-level talks will be sent on Thursday.

Meanwhile, intelligence reports said that Lakhvi is not exactly under arrest — he is said to be quite functional and probably even moving around. To that extent, the Indian side is hoping that Pakistan does give access to an Indian commission.

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