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NIA to visit Pakistan in January on 26/11 probe: Malik

 New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS): India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the 26/11 attacks is likely to visit Pakistan in mid-January while a Pakistani judicial panel could visit India next week, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said here on Saturday.

In an interview with NDTV news channel, Malik said that the matter was discussed during his meeting with Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday evening. "And yesterday we have worked out a way forward so that the (Pakistani) judicial commission may come next week," said Malik. He added that he had "even offered to let them go with me."

Malik said he has invited the NIA "in the middle of January". "Let the Director General of FIA (Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency) and NIA sit together and resolve issues," said the Interior Minister, who arrived on Friday evening.

Shinde had raised the issue of the NIA team's visit during his meeting with Malik on the sidelines of the SAARC ministerial meeting in the Maldives in September.

The NIA wants to go to Pakistan to examine material evidence against key masterminds and accused in the 2008 attacks that claimed 166 lives.

An eight-member Pakistani Judicial Commission had visited India in March this year following a bilateral agreement. The panel, which included prosecutors and defence lawyers, visited Mumbai and interviewed a judge who recorded the statement of terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab during the Mumbai attacks trial, a senior police official and two doctors who conducted the autopsies on the terrorists' bodies involved in the attacks and their victims.

Malik said that Shinde had taken up the matter of voice samples of the 26/11 handlers, which India hopes to match with the ones on tape giving directions during the 2008 attacks.

He said according to Pakistan's law the voice samples "cannot be given unless the permission is given by accused himself".

"We have moved the high court on the matter of (Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman) Lakhvi's voice sample and it is pending there," he said, adding that the high court was reminded two weeks ago.

"The job of investigators and prosecutors is to bring the matter before court".'

To a question on hastening the trial of the seven people, including Lakhvi in a Rawalpindi court, he said: "We are trying our best to have the trial on a day to day basis. That application is before the court." The hearing is now once a week.

Malik said the petition on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination has been before the court for the past four years.

"You must see our determination... We have discussed all the matters that in the past brought some irritation," said the Pakistani minister.

On LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, Malik said the Mumbai attacks mastermind had been bailed out thrice by the court and "we have been prohibited to arrest him, these are the orders of the high court".

He repeated his statement of Friday, asking India to provide "substantive evidence (against Saeed) that can stand the test of court".

He said the Mumbai attacks trial was proceeding according to Pakistan's judicial system. "Kasab's trial was according to India's judicial system, and when Kasab was hanged we never said anything," said Malik.

"We have done our best to arrest Saeed, and he was bailed out every time. Do you want me to violate the court? If we respect your courts, we expect you to respect our courts.

"I have said if you have substantive evidence on Saeed give it to me before I leave and I will ensure he is arrested by the time I land.. But if I arrest on hearsay, it will not stand before court," he said.

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