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Pak says no formal request for Kasab’s custody
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Pakistan on Wednesday named deputy attorney-general Sardar Ghazi as special prosecutor to pursue the case involving Pakistani accomplices of attackers of Mumbai carnage but denied media reports that it had formally sought custody of the lone survivor among the attackers - Ajmal Kasab.

Pakistan has made “no formal request” to India as yet for Kasab's custody, foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said in a brief statement. While talking to reporters, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani disclosed that Pakistan was considering sending a team of Federal Investigation Agency to India in connection with the probe.

Interior adviser Rehman Malik said Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Azhar Masood is not in Pakistan. He said Pakistan has sent 30 questions to the Indian authorities in connection with the Mumbai attack hoping the answers questions would help advance investigations into the episode. Ghazi said the extradition of Ajmal Kasab to Pakistan might be required to assess the veracity of his confessions before the Mumbai police. He further said Kasab was the “prime suspect” and it would be difficult to prosecute the other accused in this country if he is not handed over to Pakistan.

“The government of Pakistan has formally requested the Indian government to hand over the custody of Ajmal Kasab because he is the prime suspect and the rest of these suspects, they are abettors, they abetted the crime,” Ghazi said. According to PTI, officials of the Indian High Commission too said they had not received any formal request from the Pakistani authorities for Kasab.

The Pakistani authorities have taken into custody six suspects, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and its communication expert Zarar Shah, though their exact legal status and whereabouts are unclear.

“I am sure the Indian government is going to look into it (request for Kasab's custody), they are going to take a decision because without having the custody of Ajmal Kasab in Pakistan, I think it will be very, very difficult to prosecute the rest of the suspects,” Ghazi said.

He also said he hoped to work in cooperation with Indian authorities to prosecute the persons arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of links to the Mumbai attacks. “I am sure better sense (will prevail) and we get the custody of Ajmal Kasab and we are able to conduct the trial successfully.”

Ghazi said: "It is not a case which has taken place here in Pakistan. There are chains of events in India."

India refuses to comment

New Delhi: India tonight declined to comment on contradictory reports from Islamabad on Pakistan formally seeking the custody of Amir Ajmal Kasab. “Let me get the official communication, then I will answer,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here when asked for India's response to Pakistan's claim.

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