ISLAMABAD: Indian legal experts visiting Pakistan for negotiations on the terms of reference (ToR) for travel of a second Pakistani judicial commission (JC) to India for collecting evidence in the Mumbai attack case, decided on Friday to extend their stay due to a sticking point in their talks.
The Indian delegation which held talks with the Pakistani legal team led by Attorney General Irfan Qadir on Thursday was scheduled to depart on Saturday, but sources said the talks would now continue on Saturday as the two sides could not agree on the terms of reference for the upcoming visit of the Pakistani JC.
The Indian delegation comprised officials from home and external affairs ministries and Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who had prosecuted Ajmal Kasab.
India had agreed to receive the second JC during Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s visit to India last week.
The talks between legal experts have been primarily about allowing the Pakistani JC to cross-examine four key witnesses and the acceptability of the report of the JC by the Anti-Terrorism Court that is trying the seven Mumbai suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba `commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
The report of the first JC which visited Mumbai in March was rejected by the Rawalpindi ATC after objections from defence lawyers that the Indians had not allowed cross-examination of the witnesses.
The Pakistani side wants to cross-examine the chief police investigator, the magistrate who recorded Kasab’s confessional statement and the two doctors who conducted autopsies of nine terrorists killed during the attack.
Getting Indians agree to cross-examination is a difficult bargain because Pakistan would in reciprocity be required to allow cross-examination of the suspects by an Indian JC which may visit the country at a later stage.
Moreover, the Indian experts need assurances that the report of the second JC would be accepted by the court and not dismissed as happened in the case of the report of the first mission.
If both sides agree on the terms of reference, the second JC would visit Mumbai in the first week of January.