India Demands Pakistan Hand Over Fugitives

India has demanded that Islamabad hand over dozens of suspected terrorists believed to be living in Pakistan, including India's most-wanted man. Video by AP
By Rama Lakshmi and Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 2, 2008; 10:17 AM

MUMBAI, Dec. 2 -- India has demanded that Pakistan hand over 20 men wanted under Indian law to show the country is serious about closer cooperation on security issues in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks here last week.

With tension rising between the two countries, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday that the list of wanted men had been handed over in a Monday meeting with Pakistan's ranking diplomat in India.

According to officials in the Indian Foreign Ministry, the list included some of India's most wanted fugitives -- notably Dawood Ibrahim, implicated in 1993 bombings in Mumbai, and Masood Azhar, a Muslim cleric tied to the Kashmiri militant movement. Azhar had been incarcerated in India but was let go in 1999 in exchange for passengers onboard a hijacked Indian airliner.

Those two and the others are thought to be living in Pakistan.

"We have . . . asked for the arrest and hand-over of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitive of Indian law," Mukherjee said in New Delhi, the Reuters wire service reported.

In Islamabad, an official at Pakistan's Information Ministry said the country would "frame a response" to the demand, wire services reported.

The demand for the 20 men was included in a broader diplomatic protest letter handed to Pakistan's ranking diplomat in the country Monday night. The letter outlined India's belief that a Pakistani militant group was responsible for the three-day assault in Mumbai last week and demanded strong action from their neighbor against those behind the assault.

A senior member of the ruling Congress Party said that the decision to demand the handover of other fugitives was part of a deliberate effort to put the focus on Pakistan as a breeding ground for militant attacks against India.

"The mood is to build up pressure on Pakistan," said the Congress Party member. He would not speak for the record but is involved in the party's top-level discussions about how to respond to the attacks.

The United States also has been increasing pressure on Pakistan to cooperate in an investigation.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is urging Pakistan's government to "follow the evidence wherever it leads," saying transparency is crucial to the investigation into the siege that left at least 174 dead and nearly 300 wounded in this Indian mega-city. Rice, who is expected to travel to India to meet with leaders there Wednesday, said during a visit to London on Monday that the deaths of six Americans in the Mumbai attacks had heightened the U.S. stake in the outcome of the inquiry.

Rice's comments came as officials in the Indian capital, New Delhi, demanded that Pakistan take "strong action" against those who organized the assaults. Vishnu Prakash, spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry, said Pakistan's lead envoy in New Delhi had been summoned and told that "elements from Pakistan" were behind the coordinated attacks on 10 sites in Mumbai.

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