Conflict & Justice

Pakistan pledges justice for Mumbai attacks at regional summit

India and Pakistan claimed to be on the cusp of "a new chapter" of warmer relations at a regional summit Thursday, with Islamabad pledging to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai to justice soon.

According to the Times of India, Islamabad and New Delhi agreed to push a through a host of so-called confidence building measures, including the revival of a joint commission, a preferential trade agreement and liberal visa regime.

Pakistan promised to conclude the trial of the Mumbai terror accused in its custody and declared that Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 terrorist, should be hanged, the paper said.

Meeting on the sidelines of the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani "held delegation-level talks for around half an hour in a seaside beach cottage at the idyllic Shangri La resort hotel and followed it up with nearly 45 minutes of one-on-one talks," the paper said.

After the meeting, Singh described Gilani as "man of peace," and said that the dialogue process, which the two countries resumed early this year, has yielded positive results, but stressed that "more needs to be done," the paper said.

"We will review the dialogue with the expectation that all the issues which have bedevilled the relations will be discussed with all the sincerity the two sides can bring to the table," Manmohan Singh said. "We have wasted a lot of time in acrimonious debate in the past. The time has come to write a new chapter in relations between India and Pakistan," he said.

He said the next round of talks "should be far more productive and result-oriented and bring the two countries closer to each other."

Gilani, too, struck an upbeat note. "We had a good meeting. I hope the next round of talks will be more constructive and open a new chapter in relations between the two countries."

"We openly discussed all issues, including core issues related to water, terror, Sir Creek and Siachen," Gilani said.

The Pakistani side promised to bring the trial of the seven terrorists who perpetrated Mumbai terror to conclusion and pointed that the judicial commission which will be visiting India soon will positively impact the judicial process of bringing 26/11 perpetrators to justice, the Times of India said.

However, Pakistan hedged on the release of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and suspected mastermind of the Mumbai siege, according to Daijiworld.com.

"He was bailed out by the highest court of Pakistan and the government can't do anything about it," Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Thursday, according to the web site.

"A list of banned organisations was issued before Id and there was no credible evidence that Jamat ud Dawa was working otherwise," Daijiworld quoted Malik as saying. "India should give us more evidence," he said.

India has called for Saeed's arrest and prosecution many times, claiming that he is the behind-the-scenes head of Lashkar-e-Taiba.  But Pakistan has so far never taken serious action against him.