26/11 probe: Three-member Indian team leaves for Pakistan
A three-member Indian delegation on Wednesday left for Pakistan to set terms of reference for the visit of a Pakistan Judicial Commission to India in connection with 26/11 Mumbai terror attack probe.
The team led by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Dharmendra Sharma will interact with Pakistani officials for four days and look into the purpose of the visit of the Commission which wants to cross examine four Mumbai- based witnesses of 26/11 cases.
Islamabad has been insisting that the Pakistani panel's India visit is key to early completion of the 26/11 trial in Rawalpindi as the court had refused to accept the findings of the Commission's earlier visit as it did not get the chance to cross examine the four witnesses.
New Delhi has agreed to Islamabad's request but put two conditions --- it sought an assurance from Pakistan that this would be the final visit by the panel and New Delhi wanted Pakistani law officers to certify its admissibility in Pakistani courts.
The visiting Indian delegation will also set modalities for the Pakistani panel's Mumbai visit.
During his recent visit to India, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said if the Indian team visits Pakistan this week, the Pakistani Commission will be able to visit India by first week of January.
India has voiced serious concerns over the proceedings of the 26/11 case in the Rawalpindi court against seven accused, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, going at a very slow pace.
Four judges of the court have been changed so far while its proceedings are being disrupted very frequently with different reasons being cited.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said in a statement that it has received the official request of the Indian team yesterday and the formal concurrence for the team's visit from December 19 to 22 was promptly conveyed. "The above is in accordance with the understanding reached between the Interior and Home Ministers of Pakistan and India regarding the visit of Indian officials and the early finalisation of modalities for the visit of the Pakistani Judicial Commission to India," the statement said.