India on Wednesday issued seven-day visas for the Pakistani judicial commission that will visit the country on September 21 to cross-examine the Mumbai terror attack witnesses and carry forward the much-delayed trial. "We have issued the visas today and the passports would be handed over today itself," a diplomatic source said. Sources said the eight-member commission had sought visas for 4-5 days but the High Commission has given them a seven-day visa. They added that visa had been given for Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Amritsar. The commission members would be travelling to India through the Wagah border. The commission was earlier scheduled to leave for India on September 11 but the visit was postponed due to the 10-day Ganesh festival. The visit has been delayed thrice this month. While India had given a date for early September, the team could not leave due to cancellation of PIA flight. The next date fixed was September 7, which was again cancelled due to non-availability of flight. Finally, a new date was fixed for September 11 but India said due to Ganesh Chaturthi festival, courts would be closed in Mumbai. The visit to India to cross-examine witnesses is being undertaken to take forward the prosecution of the seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Tayyaba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. The witnesses are the magistrate who recorded LeT terrorist and lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab's confessional statement, the chief investigating officer and two doctors who conducted the autopsy of the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. This would be the commission's second visit to India. A report submitted by the panel after its first visit in March 2012 was rejected by an anti-terrorism court as the commission's members were not allowed to cross-examine witnesses. The Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan was also a subject of discussion during the recent talks held between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan.
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has ordered for deletion of life imprisonment term from “Tahafaz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat” law, saying sentence in blasphemy case is only death sentence and awarding any other punishment in this respect is not lawful. A five-member larger bench of the FSC, headed by Justice Fida Hussain, was hearing a contempt of court petition filed by Hashmat Habib on Wednesday. While pronouncing the judgment, the bench said the FSC had given a decision in 1990 that life imprisonment, mentioned with death sentence in blasphemy law should be deleted as any blasphemous act is not acceptable and the blasphemer is liable to be punished under death penalty. Hashmat Habib had filed petition in FSC that court’s 1990 decision has not been implemented so far. He prayed the court to issue orders for implementation of this verdict besides initiating contempt of court proceedings against those who have failed to implement the decision.
Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Chairman Akhtar Mengal on Wednesday took oath as a member of the Balochistan Assembly (BA). Talking to reporters, Mengal said that he has taken the bitter pill in an attempt to meet the expectations of the people who voted for him. He said Balochistan had been turned into a graveyard and the sons of Balochistan were forced to take refuge in other countries. Mengal said the BNP-M’s central committee had decided to raise a voice in the parliament for the protection of Baloch rights and resources. BNP-M, a mainstream Baloch nationalist party, has decided to sit on the opposition benches in the provincial assembly. The party had reservations over the authenticity of the May 11 general elections in Balochistan and had repeatedly blamed the government of rigging the polls. After a three and a half month-delay, the party has finally made its way to the BA and has decided to become a part of the parliament.