/ 5 January 2009

India hands over Mumbai attack evidence to Pakistan

India said it had handed over evidence on Monday that linked Pakistani militants to the Mumbai attacks, demanding a prompt investigation by Islamabad and piling diplomatic pressure on its nuclear-armed rival.

India has blamed Pakistani militants for the November attacks in Mumbai by 10 gunmen that killed 179 people. The rampage through India’s financial hub has revived hostilities between the neighbours that have fought three wars since 1947.

”The material is linked to elements in Pakistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

”It is our expectation that the government of Pakistan will promptly undertake further investigations in Pakistan and share the results with us so as to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The evidence presented to Pakistan included a confession from the one surviving gunman, details of communications links with ”elements in Pakistan”, and data retrieved from GPS and satellite phones, the ministry said.

”It is our duty, my duty to examine the dossier carefully, understand it and be truthful to myself, to my country and the neighbourhood,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Reuters.

While a similar attack on India’s Parliament in 2001 nearly sparked a war after a massive build-up of forces on their border, this time New Delhi has focused on diplomatic initiatives, especially winning support from the United States.

On Monday, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher was in Islamabad for meetings with government leaders on various issues, including the Mumbai attacks, a US embassy spokesperson said.

US ambassador to India David Mulford told reporters that the United States fully supported India and the investigation.

”The United States will pursue this matter to its conclusion. Period,” Mulford told reporters. ”The level of cooperation of the FBI is very, very significant.”

India says that so far it has not been satisfied by Pakistan’s response. New Delhi wants Islamabad to dismantle what it says are terrorist training camps on its territory, and extradite 40 suspects.

Pakistan says it will act if India provides proof, although many Indians suspect Pakistan will do the very minimum needed to fend off international pressure. — Reuters