Pak removes special prosecutor in 26/11 case for 'going by the book'
30 April 2018
Pakistan's interior ministry has abruptly removed the chief prosecutor in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case for "not taking the government line", an official said on Sunday, according to a PTI report which called the development a major setback to India's efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"The interior ministry has removed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) special prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar, who had been chief of prosecution in the Mumbai attack case since 2009, from the high-profile case," an official of the FIA privy to the development told PTI. Azhar has been told that his services in the Mumbai attack case are no more required, he said.
When contacted, Azhar confirmed that he was asked to stop pursuing the Mumbai attack case. "I am no more with this case," he said.
Ten terrorists allegedly from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had sailed to the Mumbai coastline from Karachi and carried out coordinated attacks in the city, killing 166 people and injuring over 300 in November 2008. The lone survivor, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was sentenced to death and hanged in 2012 (See: Pak terrorist Ajmal Kasab hanged at Yerwada Jail
"Azhar has only been separated from the Mumbai attack case. However, he will continue to represent the state in other cases like Benazir (Bhutto) assassination," PTI’s source said.
Azhar developed differences with the government over the manner in which the case was being pursued, the official said. "The government has its own 'special consideration' in this case and Azhar perhaps was not taking the government line. He was keen to follow the high profile case by book," the official suggested as the reason for the differences between the chief prosecutor and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.
The government offered no explanation of the decision, terming it a routine matter. "It seems to be a routine matter. I will have to talk to the relevant persons to know the reason," an official of the interior ministry said.
The Mumbai attack case has entered into the 10th year but none of its suspects in Pakistan has been punished yet. According to PTI, rhe weekly hearing in this case hardly takes place since the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) has completed the statement of all 70 prosecution witnesses. According to the prosecution, the case may not further proceed till the Indian government sends its 24 witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements.
Pakistan has written to India in this regard. India replied that Pakistan must put Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on trial based on the evidence it had provided to it.
Seven LeT suspects — Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum — are facing charges of abetment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack since 2009. Except for Lakhvi, the other six are kept in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
LeT operation commander Lakhvi secured bail about three years ago. He has been living in an undisclosed location since then. There are reports that he had come to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa headquarters in Lahore last November to greet Saeed on his release from a 10-month detention under terrorism and public safety laws.