A view of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai which was a target during the 26/11...

On November 26, 2008, ten Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists had sailed into Mumbai from Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and launched coordinated attacks at various places in the city.

In a blow to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice, Pakistan’s interior ministry removed the chief prosecutor from the nine-year-old case for his “unbiased and independent” approach.

The prosecutor’s attitude was not considered by authorities to be synchronised with the government’s line, an official privy to the development was quoted by the media as saying on Sunday.

The move comes two days after the US urged Pakistan to fully cooperate with India to investigate the Mumbai attacks. “We want to see justice done and we continue to urge Pakistani cooperation,” Mark Toner, US State Department spokesperson had said on Friday.

An official of Federal Investigation Agency told PTI that the interior ministry has removed FIA’s special prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar, who had been serving as chief of prosecution in the high-profile case since 2009. Explaining his differences with the government, the official said, “He was keen to go by the book in the high-profile case.”

Sacking a routine matter: Pakistan 

The Federal Investigation Agency official said that 26/11 case prosecutor Azhar had developed differences with the government over the “manner” the case was being pursued. Azhar confirmed that he was asked to stop pursuing the Mumbai attack case. “I am no more with this case,” he said. The home ministry, however, called the move a routine matter. “It seems to be a routine matter. I will have to talk to the relevant persons to know the reason,” the report quoted an official of the interior ministry saying.

In November 2008, ten Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists had sailed into Mumbai from Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and launched coordinated attacks at various places in the city on November 26, killing 166 people and injuring over 300.

The Mumbai attack case has been moving at extremely slow pace in Pakistan and the key persons accused by India with solid evidence roam freely even after 10 years. The anti-terrorism court has completed recording of the statements of all Pakistani witnesses in the case and now authorities here claim that the ball is in India’s court as it as the foreign office had written in March to the Indian government asking it to send all 24 witnesses to Pakistan for recording statements in the trial court. Without recording of statements of Indian witnesses, the trial could not move ahead, officials here say. India replied that Pakistan must put Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on trial based on the evidence it had provided to it. 

“It appears that the state is not in a hurry to decide this case since the matter is related to its arch-rival India,” a senior lawyer said.

Had the authorities been serious, this case would have been decided years ago, he said. Seven LeT suspects — Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum — are facing charges of abutment to murder, attempted murder, planning and executing the Mumbai attack since 2009. Except Lakhvi, the other six are kept in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.