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Pakistan's refusal to extradite Mumbai attack suspects for trial is part of long-standing policy

Bahukutumbi Raman [former head of the Counter-Terrorism Division, Research and Analysis Wing (India's external intelligence agency)]: "Even before the Mumbai terrorist attack of November, 2008, India had been repeatedly demanding the arrest and handing over to India by Pakistan of 20 terrorism suspects - Indian as well as Pakistani nationals - wanted for trial in India in terrorism-related cases. According to Indian investigators, they were living in Pakistan. In the case of the suspects who are Indian nationals, Pakistan denied their presence in its territory. In the case of the Pakistani nationals, it rejected the evidence against them produced by India as fabricated.

India has now demanded the arrest and handing over of 22 more suspects living in Pakistan, who are wanted in the trial relating to the Mumbai attack. All of them are Pakistani nationals and belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a Pakistani terrorist organisation which had carried out the terrorist strike. These include Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of the LET. An Indian court before which the trial is presently being held has issued non-bailable warrants for their arrest and production before the court.

According to the media, the Pakistani authorities have ruled out the handing over of these persons to India on the ground that they are Pakistani nationals. They have said that if India could produce credible evidence of their involvement in the Mumbai attack they would be arrested and prosecuted before a Pakistani court, but the question of their being tried by an Indian court would not arise. Five of these persons were arrested by the Pakistani police after the Mumbai attack on the basis of the evidence of their involvement in the Mumbai attack produced by Indian and US investigators. The Pakistani authorities say that they are making their own investigation into their involvement to corroborate the evidence collected by the Indian and US investigators and that they will be prosecuted in Pakistan if warranted by the evidence.

Since Pakistan became independent in 1947, it has never handed over to India any Pakistani national wanted for trial in India in respect to any crime. They continue to follow that policy even in respect to the Mumbai attack despite international pressure on them to co-operate with India in the investigation and prosecution of the accused. For them, co-operation does not mean handing over Pakistani nationals for trial by Indian courts."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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