M A I N   N E W S

Won’t rest till attackers are punished, says PM
No meeting with Pak foreign minister at CHOGM
Anita Katyal writes from Washington

Rules out the possibility of a meeting between and the Pakistani foreign minister on the sidelines of the meeting of Commonwealth heads of government at Port-of-Spain.

In a special message on the eve of the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday declared that his government will not rest till it has brought the perpetrators of this crime to justice. He had been assured by US President Barack Obama that his administration would use its influence with Pakistan to ensure that such incidents do not recur. Addressing mediapersons at the end of his four-day visit to Washington as the first state guest of the Obama presidency, the Prime Minister paid homage to all those who lost their lives in what he described as the “worst terrorist attacks our country has witnessed” and said India’s commitment to an “open democratic and secular society” will not be shaken by such assaults.

The PM said that his government had been pursuing Pakistan to try and punish the masterminds of this attack and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and all safe havens on its territory. He said this issue had figured in his discussions with President Obama who had assured him that “US’ influence in that direction will work”. Upset that Islamabad was not acting against the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks, he said India has been hoping that the US would leverage its influence with Pakistan to nudge it in that direction.

As for reports that Pakistan had charge sheeted seven suspects, PM maintained that Islamabad is obliged to book all those responsible for the Mumbai carnage since the conspiracy was hatched in their territory. He said though he was unaware of these reports, he “welcomed any steps in that direction”, adding that Pakistan can do much more to bring to book all the suspects who continue to be roaming around freely. “We expect the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks to be tried and punished,” he added emphatically.

He ruled out the possibility of a meeting between and the Pakistani foreign minister on the sidelines of the meeting of Commonwealth heads of government at Port-of-Spain, stating that there was nothing on the cards till now. The last time the Prime ministers of the two countries met in the seat resort of Sharam-el-Sheikh in July, they had issued a joint statement which boomeranged as it met with strong opposition in India.

Responding to a question, PM Singh underlined that Islamabad faces no threat from India as New Delhi regards a “strong, purposeful and peaceful” Pakistan to be in its national interest. However, he said, India is worried about that the spread of Taliban activities to the Pakistan mainland as it would also pose a serious threat to India’s security. Referring to the measures taken by India to strengthen internal security and intelligence system, the PM assured the country that his government will leave no stone unturned to safeguard the lives of Indian citizens. “Strengthening internal security is the top priority of the government”, he said, adding that effective response mechanism to deter such threats in future has been put in place and further foolproof measures will be put in place.

He described the attacks as a calculated attempt by forces outside the country to destabilise “our secular polity, create communal discord and undermine the country’s economic and social progress” but assured the country these efforts will be thwarted effectively.





Pak frames charges against Lakhvi, 6 others
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

An anti-terrorist court, headed by Malik Mohammad Akram Awan, on Wednesday indicted seven accused in the Mumbai terror case.

The indictment, second in nearly six weeks, comes on the eve of first anniversary of the ghastly assault on India’s commercial capital — Mumbai. The defence had rejected the earlier indictment on plea that it was done in their absence.

The seven accused pleaded not guilty. The court adjourned hearing till December 5 when the prosecution would present witnesses.

The allegations read out by the judge included entering into conspiracy to assault Mumbai on November 26 last year, indulging in acts of terrorism and handling the perpetrators of the crime, criminal offences relating to possession of explosives, funding the Mumbai terrorist operation and monitoring its executive.

“The judge heard our arguments against prosecutor’s plea to make the statement of Ajmal Kasab as part of the proceedings of this case,” one of defence counsels, Malik Rafiq Khan told reporters who were barred from attending the proceedings.

Kasab, the lone survivor among attackers, was arrested by the police and is currently being tried in a Mumbai court. Khan said the defence maintained that statement given in a foreign country could not be produced as evidence in the present case.

Pakistani authorities had initially arrested five people, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who is being charged as the mastermind, Zarar Shah alias Abdul Wajid, believed to be a facilitator and using his computer expertise to aid the attackers, Hamad Amin Sadiq, accused of facilitating the transfer of funds and providing hideouts to the attackers, Abu al Qama alias Mazhar Iqbal named as a “handler and facilitator” in the chargesheet and Shahid Jamil Riaz, blamed for facilitating the transfer of funds. Riaz, who was arrested on March 19, also served as a crew member of the boat Al Fauz that was used by the attackers.

Thirteen other people named in the case have been absconding since the attack but two of them were arrested recently.

Headley plot: Retd Major held

Islamabad: Pakistan Army has arrested a retired Major for his alleged links with terror suspects David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, nabbed by FBI on charges of plotting attacks against India and Denmark. Chief military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said the officer, who retired two years ago, has been arrested and is currently being questioned by intelligence agencies.— PTI 



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