Pakistan may allow Indian investigators to grill the Mumbai attack suspects after being provided with sufficient evidence of their involvement,but will not hand them over to New Delhi,a media report said here on Sunday. At a press conference in Multan,Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also made it clear that there was no question of extraditing any of the terror suspects to India.
At the most,Pakistan could permit the Indians to grill the people now under detention and being blamed by New Delhi for a key role in the Mumbai carnage. However,there is no likelihood that they will be handed over to India, a senior unnamed Pakistani official was quoted as saying by The Nation.
There can be no comparison between Pakistans extradition of terror suspects to the US and Indias demand for handing over of persons linked to the Mumbai attacks,Qureshi said. We have a treaty with the US,we do not have an extradition treaty with India. Please do not compare, he said.
Qureshis statement was made on the eve of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Bouchers visit to Islamabad,and coincided with a report in UK daily The Sunday Times that the FBI has given to Pakistan evidence of involvement of elements based in that country in the Mumbai strikes.
This evidence apparently includes Pakistan-based handlers of terrorists warning them about the arrival of Indian commandos while watching the mayhem live on TV,The Sunday Times said.
Lashkar-e-Toiba operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi,the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attacks,and its communications specialist Zarar Shah are among the militants detained in Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan has turned down repeated demands from India to hand them over,insisting that New Delhi first provide proof of their involvement.
The Pakistani official told The Nation that if India did this,Indian investigators or any other law enforcement agency from across the world could be given access to the wanted persons on Pakistani soil.
The Sunday Times reported that Zarar Shah admitted under interrogation that he advised the terrorists by phone as the attacks unfolded. Controllers in Pakistan watched television and warned the gunmen of the arrival of Indian commandos,the report said,citing evidence handed over by the FBI to the Pakistani government.
The FBI had decoded Skype calls over the internet that were made between the gunmen in Mumbai and their LeT controllers in Pakistan,identified as Shah,Abu Hamza and Abu Qafa,it said.
Talking in colloquial Punjabi,the controllers repeatedly told the attackers Aag lagao (light the fire),which can be interpreted as maximising casualties.
During the conversation,the men were also instructed to kill all the Israelis held captive in Nariman House,but to spare all the Muslims,it said.
Qureshi today reiterated that Islamabad had not received anything officially from India.
After the Mumbai attacks,he said,Pakistan adopted a strategy with three objectives: to avoid war as it offers no solutions; to protect Pakistan from international isolation; and to save the country from internal destabilisation. I will not say we have achieved the objectives but we are close to achieving them, he said.
Qureshi also said there was no link between the Kashmir issue and the Mumbai attacks. Pakistans stand on the Kashmir issue remains the same. Mumbai is an issue that is related to terrorism, he said.
He hoped that relations with India would normalise after this setback.