Pakistan probes ex-army officers in attack


By TOM WRIGHT

NEW DELHI-Pakistan is investigating the possible involvement of two former army officers and four other militants in the 2008 attacks on Mumbai based on new information provided by India, according to a senior Pakistani government official. But the government denies India’s assertions that Pakistan’s military spy agency orchestrated the strike.

Claims of Pakistani-intelligence involvement in the Mumbai attacks were made by a senior Indian government official last week on the eve of a heralded peace summit between the two nations’ foreign ministers. Speaking to a local Indian newspaper, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said New Delhi’s questioning of David Headley, a Pakistani-American citizen involved in the Mumbai attacks and now in U.S. custody, had provided evidence that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence military spy agency orchestrated the killings.

Mr. Pillai’s claims sparked a round of mutual recriminations that cast a pall over efforts to reduce tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors.

India’s national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, reiterated India’s concerns Tuesday that links between Pakistan’s “establishment”-a term for its powerful military and spy agencies rather than the civilian government-and Islamist terrorists were strengthening.

“That nexus makes it a harder phenomenon for us to deal with,” Mr. Menon said in a speech to a terrorism conference in New Delhi. He stopped short of saying the Pakistani state was involved in the attacks on Mumbai, during which 10 Pakistani gunmen left more than 160 people dead in a three-day killing spree in India’s financial capital.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Abdul Basit, said Tuesday that Pakistan strongly refutes charges that ties between Pakistan’s establishment and Islamist militants are growing stronger.

India suspended peace talks with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks but restarted them in February this year. It has argued that Pakistan must bring the perpetrators to justice before talks can move on to other issues, including the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan has charged seven people, including members of Pakistan militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, for their involvement in the terror attacks, but their trials haven’t begun, angering Indian authorities.

The senior Pakistan official said India’s home minister, P. Chidambaram, had informed Pakistan’s government during a meeting in Islamabad last month of the possible involvement of six further people, comprising the two former army officers and four “lower officials” of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The official said Pakistan is conducting its own inquiry based on the new evidence. The names came from India’s interrogation in early June of Mr. Headley, who has admitted to staking out targets for the Mumbai attacks, the official said.

The evidence, although showing possible links of former Pakistan military personnel to the Mumbai attacks, doesn’t add up to India’s claims of Pakistan state involvement, the Pakistani official said.

An Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman declined to comment. Attempts to reach the Indian Home Ministry weren’t successful. Mr. Basit, the spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, said India’s claims of Pakistan state involvement in the Mumbai attacks were “baseless accusations.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on an official visit to Islamabad, said Monday the U.S. had shared “quite a revealing set of facts” from its interrogation of Mr. Headley with Pakistan. Mrs. Clinton didn’t elaborate.

India’s claims of involvement by Pakistani intelligence in the Mumbai attacks torpedoed last week’s peace talks before they started. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied the link Thursday as he met with his Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, and blamed India for sabotaging the talks. They were the first ministerial-level discussions since the peace process was suspended in 2008.

Senior Indian officials over the weekend said New Delhi stands by Mr. Pillai’s charges of Pakistan state involvement in the attacks, but they haven’t elaborated.

Indian officials have also said publicly it was Mr. Qureshi’s insistence that talks also encompass Kashmir and other issues that led to the breakdown in talks. New Delhi says it won’t move on to other issues until Pakistan cracks down on militants involved in attacking India.

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