Pakistani authorities have initiated steps to obtain travel documents for members of a judicial commission that is expected to visit India for a second time by the end of this month to interview four officials as part of the probe into the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The Federal Investigation Agency yesterday filed an application in an anti-terrorism court that asked the members of the commission to deposit all necessary documents and passports.
The court of Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman is conducting the trial of seven suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai incident. The judge issued notices to all members of the commission, including defence and prosecution lawyers, to deposit the documents by February 9.
Sources said the commission is expected to visit Mumbai by the end of February.
The Interior Ministry has issued a formal notification regarding the nine-member judicial commission's visit to India, FIA Special Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told the judge.
The Indian government too has cleared the commission’s visit, he said.
The panel will cross-examine four key Indian witnesses - the police officer who led the probe into the Mumbai attacks, the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, and two doctors who performed the autopsies of the attackers.
Kasab was hanged last year in a jail in Pune.
This will be the commission's second visit to Mumbai.
It had visited India in March last year but its findings were rejected by the Pakistani anti-terrorism court because the panel did not have the power to cross-examine witnesses.
Following negotiations between officials of the two countries in December, India agreed to allow the Pakistani commission to cross-examine the witnesses.
Indian officials also sought an assurance that the panel’s findings would not again be rejected by the anti-terrorism court.
Authorities had earlier acknowledged that the conspiracy behind the Mumbai attacks was hatched on Pakistani soil.
The trial of the seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, has progressed at a snail's pace due to repeated adjournments and various technical delays.
Though India blamed LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed for masterminding the attacks, Pakistan has refused to take action against him, saying the evidence provided by New Delhi is not adequate to prosecute him.