Ansari interrogation nails Pak role: PC
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But Pakistan immediately contested the claim, and praised the role of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — which New Delhi suspects of having engineered the attacks — in the fight against terror. It then went on to lecture India on how the involvement of Ansari, an Indian citizen, in the attacks was proof that there was "something wrong" with the Indian "system too".
The war of words happened between Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was addressing a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, and Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Senior Advisor on Interior Affairs, who spoke to reporters in Islamabad within hours of Chidambaram making his comments.
Chidambaram said Ansari had confirmed during his interrogation that he was in the control room in Karachi giving directions to the terrorists in Mumbai. "This has confirmed our suspicion that there was some organised effort which had some kind of state support. When I say, state actors, at the moment, I am not pointing fingers at any particular agency (within Pakistan). But clearly there was state support or state actors' support for the 26/11 massacre. The argument that non-state actors were behind the massacre is no longer valid," said Chidambaram.
He said Ansari had given a few names and identified other people present in the "control room", giving clear evidence about the involvement of Pakistan's official machinery.
"Now we are confident that we will be able to track down the masterminds and accomplices. We will track down every single mastermind, every single accomplice. We will apprehend them when we have an opportunity. I am not saying how we are going to do it. We will continue to put pressure on Pakistan to give what I think are four to five persons still being sheltered by them," he said.
This is not the first time that New Delhi has blamed state actors in Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks. Chidambaram himself has said several times that the attacks could not have taken place without the backing of "state actors" — an apparent reference to government institutions like the ISI, the military or other such agency in Pakistan.
Though the Home Minister did not name any organisation today, Pakistan's Rehman Malik took it to be a reference to ISI and went on praise the agency, claiming that its role in the war on terror was "well recognised by everybody". "We are proud of our ISI which is defending Pakistan," he said, and claimed that the "elite agency" was the target of a "propaganda campaign".
He then sought to remind New Delhi that two other suspects in the Mumbai attacks, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed Malik, were also Indian citizens.
"Zabiuddin Ansari is Indian. He was caught in India. He did everything in India. Why are you then blaming Pakistan? He is your citizen. That means your agencies failed to control your citizen. Please have a look at your systems as well," Malik was quoted by PTI as saying.
Malik sought information from India about Ansari's interrogation reports in which he is reported to have admitted to his role in planning and executing the Mumbai attacks. Chidambaram said he had received a note from Malik in this regard. "We will do that in due course, but we will insist that Pakistan keeps its promise and gives use the voice samples of all persons whose list we had given. Let us see how Pakistan reacts. It is Pakistan which is under pressure, not India," Chidambaram said.
In Islamabad, Malik reiterated that New Delhi must focus on the role of Indians in the attacks. "India must stop blaming ISI for all terrorist incidents," he said.
He then pointed to the rise of "Hindu terrorism" in India and equated it with the Taliban. He said five terrorist incidents that were earlier blamed by India on ISI had turned out to be the handiwork of Hindu extremists. He said he had raised this issue in his discussions with Chidambaram.
"I think Hindu extremism is spreading and increasing in your country. We failed to control our Taliban in Pakistan and we are suffering. Please do something," he claimed to have told Chidambaram.
"We warned you (India) three years back that Hindu extremism is coming to your country. Your own Taliban is emerging there. So now we have seen the result and I wish best of luck to India so that the law enforcement agencies are able to do something to stop it," he said.
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