M A I N   N E W S

Hafiz Saeed Trial
Pak didn’t build a water-tight case
Ashok Tuteja/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
The Pakistan Supreme Court ruling yesterday dismissing the government’s appeal against the release of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed has caused a mild setback to the Indo-Pak normalisation process, but the foreign ministers of the two countries will meet as scheduled in Islamabad on July 15, Indian officials say.

They believe that the Pakistan Government did not build a water-tight case linking Saeed with terrorist activities, almost ignoring India’s affirmations about the necessity of bringing the JuD chief to justice for his role in the Mumbai attacks in the interest of bilateral ties.

It is being apprehended in official circles here that Islamabad is reluctant to act against Saeed despite heaps of evidence provided by India against him because of his proximity to the military establishment in Pakistan, particularly the ISI. “For the ISI, Saeed is a strategic asset who can be used as and when it wants against India,” said an official.

Sources asserted that the evidence collected against Saeed painstakingly by Indian investigators and supplied to Pakistan by the External Affairs Ministry was so irrefutable that it could withstand in a court of law anywhere in the world to nail the JuD chief.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao yesterday expressed disappointment over the quashing of appeals by the Pakistan Supreme Court against Saeed’s acquittal and hoped Islamabad would be sensitive to India’s concerns and take “meaningful action” against people like the JuD head. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at his meeting with his Pakistan counterpart Yousaf Reza Gilani in Thimphu, last month, had drawn his attention towards the activities of Saeed and how he was being allowed to roam about freely in Pakistan. To this, Gilani had spoken about the independence of judiciary in his country and the difficulties being faced by his government in acting against Saeed.

India has so far provided some 10 dossiers to Pakistan, linking elements in Pakistan with planning and executing terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, in which more than 170 persons were killed. Three of these 10 dossiers were handed over by the Indian Foreign Secretary to her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir at their meeting in New Delhi on February 25. Bashir later described the dossiers given to him as literature, for which he earned a lot of flak.

The evidence includes confessions made by captured Mumbai attacker Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, records of satellite phones used by the terrorists and transcripts of conversation between the attackers and their Lashkar handlers in Pakistan, who were based near a Pakistani terrorist training camp. It also contains the log book recovered from MV Kuber, the fishing trawler hijacked by the terrorists to enter the Indian waters and tracks its journey from Karachi to Mumbai. The dossiers also points to the involvement of the ISI in planning and executing the terror attacks and includes taped conversations between the ISI top brass on the Mumbai incidents.

At least one dossier details stark telephone exchanges between the attackers and their handlers. One of the attackers informs his supervisor that he has five hostages while the handler tells him to inflict the maximum damage. He also instructs the terrorist to keep fighting and ensure that he is not captured alive. The terrorist is also asked to keep his mobile switched on so that his handler can hear the gunfire. The sources rejected Islamabad’s claim that there was nothing much in the Indian dossiers on the basis of which a foolproof case could be built against Saeed. They said it was quite clear from the exchanges between the Mumbai attackers and their handlers as to who masterminded the attacks. New Delhi had also submitted to Pakistan the excerpts of speeches made by Saeed in which he called for “jehad” against India.





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