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No question of going soft: Pranab
Says terror fugitives can be handed over under Extradition Act of 1972
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today clarified that New Delhi was firm on its demand that Pakistan should hand over to India the perpetrators of terror acts, including those involved in the ghastly Mumbai strikes. “We have never given up the demand that perpetrators of terror acts should be extradited to India. There is no question of any climb down,” he said in a statement.

The clarification came a day after media reports quoted Mukherjee indicating to a television news channel that India was not averse to a free and fair trial of the Indian fugitives in Pakistan itself if they could not be extradited to India.

Political parties, particularly the BJP, and foreign affairs experts had expressed surprise over Mukherjee’s reported remarks, which implied a dramatic U-turn on India’s stand on the issue. Realising that his reported statement had created a needless controversy on an important foreign policy matter, especially at a time when India is going all out to corner Islamabad on the issue of cross-border terrorism, Mukherjee today said dastardly terror crimes, planned and launched from Pakistan, have been committed in India. “Therefore, the perpetrators must face Indian justice. This is not an either or situation, as these things are not mutually exclusive,” he added.

For the first time, he pointed out that Pakistan’s Extradition Act of 1972 specifically provides for extradition even when there is no bilateral extradition treaty between the countries, puncturing Islamabad’s argument that it could not hand over its citizens to India since there was no mutual extradition arrangement. Mukherjee also drew attention of the SAARC convention on terrorism, saying it also has the same intent and such provisions are there in other international instruments.

“Major terrorist acts have been committed in India. These were planned and launched from Pakistan. Only full investigations which are transparent and verifiable in Pakistan can unravel the conspiracy,” he said.

The minister went on to add that India had been requesting Pakistan to take sincere and effective steps to find out the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks. “Pakistan is obliged to investigate and prosecute the criminals. It is Pakistan’s responsibility that individuals based in Pakistan do not commit criminal acts in other countries and then have immunity simply because they are Pakistani nationals.”

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