The seven Pakistani accused in the Mumbai attacks case,including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi,have appointed two new lawyers to carry forward the long-delayed trial. The accused have hired Islamabad-based Zahid Hussain
Tirmizi and Raja Rizwan Abbasi to defend them in the case
being heard by an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad after the
earlier lawyers separated themselves from the case citing
Lakhvi,Abdul Wajid,Mazhar Iqbal,Hammad Amin Sadiq,
Shahid Jameel Riaz,Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum were arrested in July 2009 for their alleged role in the November 26,2008 attacks in India’s financial hub in which 166 people were killed and over 300 injured.
Abbasi rejected apprehensions that the case would now be
“There is no question of delay from our side. Our clients have been in custody for five years and we want the case to be sped up,” Abbasi told PTI. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for November 27,
a day after the fifth anniversary of the brazen attacks.
Special Public Prosecutor in the case,Chaudhury Mohammed Azhar had also said the case would not be delayed.
“There is no question of any delay. The case will go on. New defence lawyers have been appointed,” he said.
The earlier defence lawyers – Khawaja Haris and Riaz
Akram Cheema ¿ had separated themselves from the case
Cheema said Haris had already separated himself from the
case and handed it over to him. Cheema had been pursuing the case since the beginning while Haris replaced his father
Khawaja Sultan Ahmed on his death over a year ago.
Cheema was also part of the Pakistani Judicial Commission
that had visited India recently. Asked if he was removed by the accused,he told PTI,”In fact Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and others requested me to review the decision to separate myself from the case.”
He said,”Those saying that the accused changed the lawyers because of the delay in the case is not true. We had filed a petition in the trial court requesting a day-to-day hearing for early disposal of the case.”
“Despite indictment of the accused under Anti-Terrorism
Act inordinate delay is made. Under the law,it is mandatory
that cases are disposed of without any delay,” he said.
India has already been expressing disappointment with the
slow-paced progress of the trial.
Acknowledging that relations between both the countries
have not improved much,Bashir said both India and Pakistan need to “leap over the difficulties” and will have to look at the future as their destinies are linked to each other.
“We need to resume contacts,we need to resume the process
of dialogue across the board and then things will start
improving,” he said.
He also dismissed suggestions that the army and forces
opposed to cordial relations with India were coming in the way of the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the sides failing to meet during the past two months to ensure peace along the LoC.
The prime ministers of both sides during their meeting in
New York had resolved that the DGMOs will meet and set up a mechanism to ensure peace along the LoC.
Bashir also appeared to blame the media for the talks
failing to take place.
“Once you build up a media hype of sorts,then it restricts the space for everybody,” he said.
Asked if he felt let down by India’s reluctance to take up Pakistan’s offer of talks,he said,”I wished all these could have been handled in a more sensible manner.”