Pakistan's Gilani to Send Spy Agency Chief to Mumbai
By Ayaz Gul
28 November 2008
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says Indian leaders must not blame his country for this week's deadly terror attacks in Mumbai. And in an unprecedented move, he has agreed to send the chief of Pakistan's top spy agency to India to help investigate the violence. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani telephoned his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on Friday to tell him that Pakistan wants better relations with India and is ready to fully cooperate to fight terrorism.
He told reporters that Pakistan is not behind the attacks in the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai and condemns such acts of terrorism because Pakistan itself is under attack from extremist forces.
Mr. Gilani says that his Indian counterpart told him that a preliminary investigation has linked attackers to the Pakistani city of Karachi. At the request of the Indian leader, the Pakistani prime minister says he has agreed to send the head of the country's top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, to India for sharing information.
"He [Prime Minister Singh] said that we have held a preliminary investigation and in preliminary investigation they said there are some indications the [attackers] from Karachi [southern port city of Pakistan]," he said. "We know that Pakistan is not involved but at the same time they wanted cooperation from the ISI. When we are not involved and we have nothing to hide why should we feel guilty about it?"
Indian authorities suspect that extremists belonging to Pakistani militant groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, are behind the attacks in Mumbai. The two outlawed al-Qaida-linked organizations have a long history of launching suicide missions and other attacks against targets in India allegedly with the help of the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI.
But leaders in Islamabad have denied these allegations and say Pakistani security forces are making all possible efforts to discourage militancy.
The country has seen relentless attacks on security forces particularly in Pakistan's northwest and cities across the country. Officials say the violence is meant to discourage the government's anti-terror campaign.
But critics say that elements within the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, may still have links with some of the jihadi groups. Defense analyst Ayesha Siddiqa welcomes the government's decision to send the spy agency's chief to India, saying no militant group at home must be spared.
"I think this is a time that besides [ISI chief] going to India and discussing it with the counterparts there, I think what we need to do at our end is also carry out an investigation and make sure that these groups, which are bothering Pakistan - forget about India or any other country - terribly, should be eliminated," she said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also spoke to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday to condemn the attacks in Mumbai and blamed "non-state actors" for the bloodshed.
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