Following incessant delays owing mostly to the lackadaisical manner in which Islamabad handled it, the ongoing Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan seems to have reached a dead end.
The Pakistani court seems to have decided that progress can’t be made in the trial until the 24 Indian witnesses in the case are examined by Pakistani authorities.
India, however, is unlikely to agree to send the witnesses to Pakistan as it is not convinced Islamabad is serious about taking the trial to its logical conclusion.
In its joint statement with the EU on terrorism last week, the government reiterated that the accused in the attacks, commonly known as 26/11, be brought to justice soon.
“Hafiz Saeed was one of the masterminds of 26/11 and look how he continues to flourish under state patronage despite the evidence provided to Pakistan about his involvement,” an Indian official said.
While India could consider examining of the witnesses through video conferencing, no such proposal has yet been made by Pakistan.
The Pakistani court conducting the trial of the seven suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, late last month ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to appoint a “focal person” to press for getting the Indian witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements in the case.
Apart from Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum have been facing charges of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The court took the decision to press for examination of Indian witnesses after the prosecution claimed that this was necessary to conclude the trial.
India, however, has repeatedly said that all evidence against the accused has already been provided and that it is enough to bring to justice the perpetrators of one of the worst terror attacks on Indian soil.
The trial has dragged for over eight years also because of repeated transfer of judges hearing the case. As many as nine judges have heard the case in the past eight years.
A court official was recently quoted as having said that the FIA’s focal person will ask Pakistan’s foreign and interior ministries to take up the matter with the Indian government to send the Indian witnesses here.
“It appear to be a last effort to bring the Indian witnesses here. Otherwise, like the defence, the prosecution will also request the court to announce the verdict without the statements of Indian witnesses,” the official said.