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Home Minister doubts Pak would ever extradite Lakhvi

July 24, 2009 22:40 IST
Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram on Friday voiced doubts whether Pakistan would ever extradite Mumbai terror attack accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and others charged in Pakistan in the 26/11 case.

"I doubt Pakistan would be ready to extradite them, but even if Pakistan prosecutes them and acts according to the law, that would be a step forward," Chidambaram said.

The Home Minister, however, expressed the hope that the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in the attack, will ensure that Pakistan expedites the trial against the other 26/11 accused.

"If Pakistan is sincere about fighting terror, they must expedite the trial. So far, they have not even commenced the trial, so how can we say they are serious about prosecuting those responsible for 26/11," he told CNN-IBN.

Referring to the controversial Indo-Pak joint statement which made a reference to Balochistan, the Home Minister categorically said that India was not involved in anyway in that province of Pakistan.

"We have nothing to do with Pakistan's internal problems, why should we get involved," he said. Chidambaram also rubbished reports that the Congress party and the government were not behind Prime Minister Monmohan Singh on the Indo-Pak joint statement.

"Let the debate take place in Parliament, and you will see the party is behind the Prime Minister," the Home Minister said.

Asked if Kasab's confession proved that Pakistani state actors were involved in 26/11, the Home Minister said, "Not yet, unless we have a finding from the court."

"From what I gather, Kasab has admitted to many parts of the charge sheet. What I have said is that an attack of this scale and magnitude could not have happened without state actors being involved. That is our presumption, it is for Pakistan to prove us wrong," he said.

On fears that Kasab would go the Afzal Guru way and the government would be reluctant to send him to the gallows, Chidambaram said, "Why are we pre-judging what will happen when the trial court has not even given its verdict in the Kasab case?"

Asked what the United Progressive Alliance's stand was on the death penalty, the Home minister said, "Remaining on death row is not a happy situation. A prisoner on death row suffers more then a person who will hang tomorrow."

"We have a slow and deliberative process to come to a conclusion and nothing needs to be done about it. Let the process and that's the right process, continue," he said.

On VIP security, Chidamabaram said the government had not buckled to pressure from the opposition on security of prominent personalities.

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