As first suggested in an editorial on this website Pakistan on Saturday suggested that it might seek the custody of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone 26/11 attacker captured alive by Indian security agencies, to bring a probe into the matter to its logical conclusion, India however, shot down the idea saying there was no way it could happen.
“If Ajmal Kasab is needed for the investigation process, then India could be asked (to hand) him over,” Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Karachi on Saturday.
India was quick to react, saying there was no way this could happen.
“The crime was committed in India. There is no question of handing Kasab to them. In fact, Pakistan should hand over to India the other suspects they’ve arrested because they were responsible for this terror attack. It can’t be the other way around,” sources in the Indian external affairs ministry were quoted as saying by IANS.
“On what basis do we send Kasab out there? The crime was committed out here (in Mumbai), therefore logic and reasoning demands that the suspects who they’ve rounded up be sent here (to India),” the sources said.
India and Pakistan do not share a valid extradition treaty, and New Delhi is now likely to use its offices to rally international efforts to press for its demands on a visibly isolated Islamabad.
The chances of India launching an all-out diplomatic campaign against Pakistan at this juncture, however, are feebled by the onset of general elections in the country that the ruling-UPA government faces over the next quarter.
Soon after Islamabad lodged an FIR against Kasab, an editorial on this website on February 11 read: “The Pak maneuver may soon see Islamabad seek Kasab’s custody to bring him to book in Pakistan, a ploy that is sure to send Indian diplomacy squirming.”
India’s reluctance to pass Kasab on to Pakistan may now result in a mild sympathy for Islamabad in international circles, as the country is sure to cry itself hoarse on how credible its efforts to bring the 26/11 culprits to book were, but failed due to India’s reluctance on the matter.
Continuing with trademark Pakistani rope-a-dope tactics Malik said, “we first had to register an FIR (first information report on the Mumbai strikes). This has been done. Now, if our investigators recommend, we will ask for access to him (Kasab),” Malik added.
He, however clarified that Islamabad had not yet asked for Kasab’s custody, his statements may well have been an effort to sound out the Indian diplomats on the issue.
Kasab is one of the nine suspects named in the FIR registered by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency on the Mumbai strikes. Six of the suspects have been arrested while the whereabouts of two are suspect.
Kasab is currently in Mumbai police custody, which expires February 26,and is definitely the strongest evidence India holds of Pakistani involvement in the barbaric three day attack on India’s commercial capital Mumbai.
Over 170 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in the Nov 26-29, 2008 strikes that India blames on “elements in Pakistan.”
Indian security forces killed nine of the 10 attackers after an operation that lasted for more than 60 hours while Kasab was captured alive.
(Akbar Khan is News Editor at visionmp.com)