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‘Proud’ aunt seeks body

Islamabad, Nov. 21: Pakistan reacted cautiously to Ajmal Kasab’s secret hanging, saying its stand on terrorism has been clear and consistent and any request to bring back the executed gunman’s body would be in accordance with the country’s laws.

“We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestation,” foreign office spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan said in a statement. “We are willing to co-operate and work closely with all countries of the region to eliminate (the) scourge of terrorism.”

Pakistan was informed beforehand about Kasab's execution, said a Pakistani foreign ministry official who asked not to be identified. “If all judicial procedures were followed, then the decision is acceptable,” the official said.

Interior minister Rehman Malik said any request from Kasab’s family to bring back his body would be handled according to Pakistani laws.

“No member of Ajmal Kasab’s family or relative has requested the government (to bring back the body). When any member of the family makes a request, then we will take it up with the Indian government,” he said in Islamabad.

Reuters reported that Kasab’s aunt told the news agency from Faridkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province that she was proud of him and wanted his body back.

“This news is hell for us,” Shahnaz Sughra, Kasab’s aunt, told Reuters by phone. “...Even if he did something wrong, we just want his body. Even if he did something wrong, I am proud that he taught the enemy a lesson in their own country.”

A schoolmate remembered a boisterous child who loved karate “but never harmed anyone”.

Villagers threw stones and slapped around journalists who went to the village in the province of Punjab. Most residents of the dusty village of over 10,000 people in Okara district were reluctant to talk about Kasab or other members of his family who had been moved to an unknown place three years ago to prevent the media from interacting with them.

Some residents, most of them with little or no formal education, denied that Kasab had any link with their village.

Background interviews by this correspondent three years ago with the residents and security officials had suggested that Kasab’s father, Amir, sold pakoras on the streets of Faridkot and never had enough money to send his kids to school. It was under these circumstances that Kasab decided to leave home some four years ago.

A senior commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba called Kasab a hero and said he would inspire more attacks. The Pakistan Taliban said they were shocked by the hanging.