Pakistani envoy summoned over 26/11 trial delay

July 26, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

NEW DELHI: India summoned a top Pakistani diplomat yesterday, two days after announcing resumption of foreign-secretary-level talks, to voice unhappiness over repeated delays in the trial of seven men accused in the deadly Mumbai attacks on November 16, 2008.

“We asked them to ensure a mechanism whereby Indian diplomats in their country get regular briefings about the Mumbai terror trial and related investigations,” a foreign ministry official said.

The trial, which began in 2012 and is being conducted by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court, was adjourned for the seventh time on Wednesday, according to the Press Trust of India.

India blames the three-day rampage in November 2008 on the outlawed Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The attacks killed 166 people and strained further relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

“Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in New Delhi was summoned to the foreign ministry,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

The Indian deputy high commissioner in Islamabad lodged a similar protest at the Pakistan foreign office, the official also said.

The last hearing in the terror case as well as the one slated for late June could not be held because the judge was on leave, the Press Trust of India reported. Trial proceedings have also been delayed by absence of prosecution lawyers amid security worries.

The seven Pakistani suspects have been charged with planning and financing the attacks on India’s financial capital.

The summoning of the Pakistani diplomat came days after the Indian foreign ministry said the foreign secretaries of both foreign secretaries would meet in Islamabad on August 25.

In a surprise move in May, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited for his swearing-in ceremony his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and leaders of other SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations.

Modi’s gesture spurred hopes about a resumption of peace talks between the neighbouring states whose relations have remained chilly since the terror attacks.

In 2012, India executed the sole surviving gunman, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, one of 10 attackers in the deadliest militant onslaught on Indian soil since the country’s 1947 independence.

Kasab, who was 25 at the time of his execution, first pleaded not guilty at his trial but later confessed he was one of the gunmen sent by the LeT.