Pak wants 'substantive evidence' against Hafeez Saeed

Pak wants 'substantive evidence' against Hafeez Saeed
Islamabad:  Pakistan will take action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, if India provides "actionable" and "substantive" evidence on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.

"We had detained him (Saeed). The law does not go by statements but evidence. If we are provided actionable evidence, we will act against him," Malik said.

He made it clear that Pakistan would act if India provides substantive evidence against Saeed.

Malik made the remarks while interacting with Indian journalists when he was asked about action being taken by Pakistan against Saeed, described by Indian officials as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people.

Noting that Pakistani authorities had arrested LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi on charges of involvement in the Mumbai incident, Malik said action could be taken against other suspects like Major Iqbal if more information is provided about them.

Major Iqbal, an officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was named by Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley during his testimony at the recent trial of another terror suspect, Tahawwur Rana, in a court in Chicago.

Malik has sought to rubbish Headley's testimony during earlier interactions with the media and he reiterated that he was not a credible witness.

He questioned where Headley had obtained funds to travel overseas so frequently.

He contended that Headley should provide sketches of Major Iqbal so that the latter could be identified.

He further contended that Iqbal was a "common name" in Pakistan and that even the full name or parentage of the suspect was not available.

Malik claimed he had sent a set of questions on Major Iqbal to India but had not got any reply.

It was also important to ascertain how Headley had become a "double agent", he said.

Malik acknowledged there were delays in the trial of the seven Pakistani suspects, including Lakhvi, facing charges of involvement in the Mumbai attacks as the accused were using every provision in the law available to prolong the process.

"Every accused has tried to get bail and we have fought it at every level. Bail has been denied to them because of the evidence we provided," he said.

The frequent change of the judge conducting the trail was not under "executive control" and court processes cannot be dictated by the executive, he claimed.

Since the trial of the seven Pakistani suspects began in early 2009, the judge has been changed four times.

The most recent change was made earlier this month and a new judge is yet to be appointed to hear the case.

In response to another question, Malik said he was hopeful that a Pakistani judicial commission would soon visit India to interview key officials, including the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the Mumbai incident.

Pakistan had received English translations of some key statements from India last week and authorities are now hopeful that with all the documents in place, the anti-terrorism court will constitute the judicial commission to visit Mumbai, Malik said.

Responding to a question about India's request to provide voice samples of several suspects in the Mumbai attacks, including those on trial in Pakistan, Malik said he had told his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram that Pakistani law does not permit authorities to obtain voice samples without the permission of the accused.

The only physical identification allowed under Pakistani law is thumb impressions and even photographs are not allowed, he said.

When authorities sought the permission of the suspects to acquire voice samples, they went to court and got an order in their favour, he said.

The authorities had now approached a High Court in this regard but to obtain voice samples without the permission of the suspects would amount to contempt of court, Malik said.

"If the High Court allows it, we will send the voice samples. When we have shared whatever we have in the case with India, why should we not give them voice samples?" he said.

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