India says Pakistan officials had to know of Mumbai plans

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 5, 2009 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — India confronted Pakistan on Monday with a detailed dossier that it said showed that "elements from Pakistan" were behind the November terrorist assault on Mumbai and said it was inconceivable that no one in the Pakistani government knew of the plans.

India's moves added pressure to the already tense relationship between the nuclear-armed rivals over the assault, in which some 170 people died.

The evidence handed to Islamabad included the lengthy confession extracted during the interrogation of Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman caught during the attack. McClatchy reported Dec. 6 that Kasab had come from Faridkot, a village in Pakistan's Punjab province.

Also in the dossier were telephone intercepts between the assailants and their alleged handlers in Pakistan, data retrieved from recovered GPS and satellite phones and details of "recovered weapons and equipment," India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

India also briefed the ambassadors of more than a dozen countries in New Delhi — including the U.S., Britain, Israel, Japan and Turkey — on the evidence that it said it had gathered.

Shiv Shankar Menon, India's foreign secretary, the top bureaucrat in the Foreign Ministry, said it "beggars the imagination" that no one within the Pakistani state knew about the preparations for the attack, an accusation that appeared directed at the Pakistani army and its intelligence agencies.

"It's hard to believe that something of this scale, that took so long in the preparation and of this nature, which amounts really to a commando attack, could occur without anybody, anywhere, in the establishment knowing that this was happening," Menon said in New Delhi.

Pakistan has said that if anyone in the country were involved, it would have to be "non-state actors." The Pakistani government said it was "carrying out its own investigations and was determined to uncover the full facts pertaining to the Mumbai terrorist attacks."

"It is our duty, my duty, to examine the dossier carefully, understand it and be truthful to myself, to my country and the neighborhood," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

Up to now, Pakistan had said that it couldn't act without proof, but India had been reluctant to trust its archenemy with evidence.

"Frankly, what we have seen so far does not impress us," Menon said. "What we want is . . . to bring the perpetrators to Indian justice and to guarantee that there are no terrorist attacks from Pakistan on India. As of now, all we have seen is denial or confusing and contradictory statements."

India thinks that the Islamist extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the Mumbai assault, a claim that Western experts view as likely to be correct. Two of the alleged planners of the attack were arrested in Pakistan and, according to some news reports, have confessed in custody. However, so far Pakistan has yet to accept officially that Kasab or any of the other nine gunmen were from Pakistan. In the past, Lashkar-e-Taiba had ties to Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's premier spy agency.

Visiting Islamabad on Monday, Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, said that "It's clear . . . that the attackers had links that lead to Pakistani soil." He also said that there was "determination here (in Islamabad) to follow up, find those responsible."

Washington is anxious to defuse the crisis, as any escalation probably would lead to Pakistan pulling troops off the Afghan border, where they're deployed against the Taliban and al Qaida, to the eastern border with India.

"Each side has pieces of the puzzle, and they need to be known to each other," Boucher added. "The two sides need to exchange information. People have to work with each other."

Pakistanis fear that they're caught between aggressive demands from India and the United States, because Washington's agenda in the war on terrorism dovetails with Indian grievances. Many in Pakistan think that the ultimate aim of an Indo-American alliance is the dismemberment of their country.

"The U.S. and India are using the Mumbai attacks as a tool to extract their own political mileage," said Farrukh Saleem, the executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies, an independent research center in Islamabad. "The tragedy is being used by both the United States and India, and Pakistan is being cornered."

The FBI is conducting an independent investigation, because Americans were among the dead in Mumbai. Indian officials said that an FBI team had visited Faridkot, Kasab's home village.

"The FBI will pursue the evidence that they gather there (in India)," said David C. Mulford, the U.S. ambassador to New Delhi. "They will eventually take that evidence to Pakistan. . . . The United States has a duty to pursue all avenues to get to the bottom of it."

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram is to travel to the United States this week to press the case against Pakistan. He said over the weekend that the Mumbai attack couldn't have happened "without any kind of state help."

(Shah is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

MORE FROM MCCLATCHY:

Villagers confirm surviving Mumbai killer is Pakistani

Could saber-rattling lead to war between India and Pakistan?

Pakistan arrests head of group linked to Mumbai killings

Mystery phone call put Pakistan and India on the brink of war

McClatchy Newspapers 2008

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service