Jan 2, 2009

World - Punish perpetrators of Mumbai attack in the country: US to Pak

The US administration is asking Pakistan to ensure that those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks are punished inside the country instead of being extradited to India, according to a media report.

The Bush administration has informed the Pakistan government that it would like it to initiate "prosecution with sufficient efforts to ensure conviction" of those behind the Mumbai incident, the Dawn newspaper quoted US sources as saying.

The move is a "clear change" in the attitude of the US, which earlier had backed the Indian demand that some of the suspects be extradited to India.

The change apparently has been noticed in New Delhi, where External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said yesterday that the US pressure on Pakistan to act against the Mumbai perpetrators had "not produced tangible returns", the newspaper said.

US officials had earlier supported India's demand for the handing over of those behind the attacks but the change in their attitude followed a realisation in Washington that it would not be easy for the Pakistan government to extradite key Lashker-e-Taiba leaders to India, the sources said.

In their negotiations with US officials on this issue, the Pakistanis insisted that the extradition of Pakistani citizens to India particularly when the two countries did not have an extradition treaty would have unpredictable consequences for the government, the sources said.

"The Pakistanis argued that the resulting political instability would not only weaken the government but could also harm the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaida militants in Afghanistan as Pakistan played a key supporting role in this war," the report said.

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