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Pakistan’s 30 Questions
India hands over replies
Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
India today handed over to Pakistan its detailed response to 30 questions posed by Islamabad to carry forward investigations into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, in a move to add to pressure on the neighbouring country to take the probe to its logical conclusion.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon called Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik to the foreign office here and handed over to him India’s replies. The detailed response runs into 401 pages of material that includes CDs with voice logs and intercepted voice recordings.

These were from two sources: Indian agencies’ intercepts and those given by the FBI to the Indian authorities. Most of the intercepts were sourced to known mobile numbers of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) and also one number through which the handlers based in Pakistan were talking to the Mumbai attackers. India’s reply also includes CCTV recordings of the incidents at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus.

Certain things, which the Indian authorities consider redundant from the point of view of investigations, have apparently been held back. On February 12, Pakistan posed 30 questions in one annexures while in another annexure it had sought additional information on the eye witness account of Jugdev, the only survivor on board the vehicle of ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was investigating the Samjhauta Express blasts. It was not known if India had also submitted the eye witness account of Jugdev.

Emerging from his meeting with Menon, the Pakistani envoy said, “The Indian Government has formally handed over to us replies to 30 questions…its part of the process.” The replies would help Pakistan carry forward the investigations which were under way. Malik said he would pass on the material to the authorities in Pakistan.

Menon, shortly on his return from the United States, met the Pakistani envoy for a scheduled meeting in the afternoon and informed him that India would be handing over the replies to Pakistan’s questions later today.

Thereafter, Home Minister P Chidambaram visited the South Block and handed over to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee the replies of the Mumbai Police to the Pakistani questionnaire, which were whetted by home ministry officials.

“The answer to each of the 30 questions posed by Pakistan is backed by evidence.

This includes reports of forensic experts,” Chidambaram said after the meeting with Mukherjee, adding Islamabad must act now.

“Anyone serious about probing the attack would find enough material to take the investigation forward. If Pakistan is serious about investigating the origins of the horrific incidents in Mumbai, these answers provide solid basis. We expect Pakistan to take the investigations forward, apprehend all the culprits, hand them over to India for prosecution, or prosecute and punish them in Pakistan,” Chidambaram added.

The Pakistan envoy came to the foreign office again in the evening when he was formally handed over the bunch of documents by the Indian foreign secretary.

In a press release, the External Affairs Ministry later said detailed responses and material have been provided by the foreign secretary to the Pakistan high commissioner to all 30 questions raised by Pakistan. “It is our hope and expectation that this step will lead to bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and to credible action by the Government of Pakistan against the infrastructure of terrorism in that country,” the release added.

Asked why India took so long in replying to Pakistan’s questions, officials said India wanted to give ‘fool-proof and irrefutable evidence’ that would leave no scope for Islamabad to revert to New Delhi with further queries.

However, apprehensions in Indian circles is that Pakistan might take shelter under the excuse of the volatile domestic situation to drag investigations. India’s endeavour would be to keep pressing on Islamabad the urgent need to tackle terrorism emanating from its territory and thus meet its bilateral and international obligations. It must dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and training camps for militants on its soil.

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