x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Pakistan will not be allowed to interrogate Mumbai gunman

India rejects request for Pakistani officials to meet Ajmal Kasab, who was part of a 2008 terror attack in the city.

MUMBAI // A Pakistani commission investigating the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai will visit in early February, but will not be allowed to interrogate the lone surviving gunman, Indian officials said yesterday.

The visit is the result of intricate negotiations between the countries, but is unlikely to resolve tensions over whether Pakistan is sincerely working to prosecute the attack's perpetrators - who India says are linked to Pakistani security forces.

Disagreements over access to Ajmal Kasab, who has been sentenced to death in India for his role in the rampage that killed 166, have spilt into public view.

Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, told India's NDTV last week that Pakistani officials would like to speak with Kasab directly to verify his confession.

"It can be verified either by bringing Ajmal Kasab to Pakistan or the judicial commission goes and personally interviews the witnesses, including Ajmal Kasab," he said. "That's what we have requested."

Ira Joshi, a spokeswoman for India's ministry of home affairs, said yesterday that such access was not part of the memorandum of understanding governing the visit.

In his confession before the court - which he later tried to retract - Kasab described in detail a network of training camps and safe houses across Pakistan, revealing the names of four men he said were his handlers.

India has accused Pakistani intelligence of being involved in the planning of the attack, and officials have complained that Pakistan is not acting vigorously enough to bring the masterminds to justice.

Pakistan bristles at that criticism, noting that seven suspects in the Mumbai attack have been put on trial.

The Pakistani delegation will visit Mumbai in the first week of February and speak to doctors who did the post-mortems on the nine gunmen killed during the attack, as well as to the magistrate who recorded Kasab's confession and the chief investigating officer of the attacks, an official at Mumbai's high court said.