Working on JuD ban but Lakhvi in court hands, Pak tells India

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New Delhi: Pakistan has told India it is was working towards a ban on Jamaat-ud-Dawa — a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba — but the fate of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the 26/11 architect, was entirely for the court to decide.

Islamabad sensitised New Delhi on the two issues during a string of under-the-radar meetings that national security adviser AK Doval held with Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit, sources said.

As reported by HT on Wednesday, these meetings paved the way for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cricket diplomacy.

“We are trying to ban the JuD because it was placed on the list of banned organsiations by the UN soon after the Mumbai attacks in 2008,” a Pakistan official involved in the negotiation process told HT.

When foreign secretary S Jaishankar travels to Islamabad early March as part of his Saarc yatra, he was likely to take forward discussions on concerns flagged by Doval and Basit, sources said.

Not many are willing to believe that the Pakistani army, which provides patronage to JuD and its founder Hafiz Saeed, will allow a ban but India has been given to understand that it is in the works.

The bigger problem, however, is Lakhvi. Pakistan wants India to be prepared that the Lashkar commander would walk free if courts decide in his favour. “Hafiz Saeed was set free through the courts and the same may happen with Lakhvi,” the official said. “The prosecution is trying its best but it is for the courts to take a final call based on evidence.”

Bail for Lakhvi will complicate the dialogue process which looks set to resume after six months. India had called off foreign secretary-level talks in August after Basit met Kashmiri separatists overlooking New Delhi’s request.

Pakistan, said sources, had told India that it can’t give up its position on engaging with the Hurriyat Conference, which was the ”representative of the Kashmiri people”. It also said India had been hasty in blaming Pakistan on the “terror boat” issue.

The Indian Coast Guard had on December 31 claimed to have intercepted a suspicious boat which it said was blown up by the crew.

The terror link between the boat and Pakistan is still to be established.

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