Pakistan finally owns up to Kasab; ISI chief says ‘no war’ (Roundup)

January 7th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghIslamabad/New Delhi/Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) After being in denial mode for weeks, Pakistan finally admitted Wednesday that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured during the Mumbai carnage, was indeed a Pakistani national but was unsure whether it would provide him consular access as he has asked for to defend himself.”Pakistani authorities, during the course of their own investigations into the Mumbai carnage have established the identity of the only surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab as a Pakistani national,” Dawnnews reported on its website.

The admission comes a day after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a hard-hitting speech, held “official agencies” of the Pakistan government complicit in the Mumbai attack and accused Islamabad of having “utilised terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India.”

Also on Tuesday, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma urged Pakistan to own up Kasab’s nationality as the “first step” to indicate its intention to cooperate in the probe into the Mumbai mayhem.

Dawnnews also quoted a high-ranking government official as saying that because of the nature of Kasab’s crime, the government has still not taken any decision on whether to provide him with counsellor access.

“The top official said the investigations had started soon after the initial reports had suggested that Ajmal Kasab may possibly be a Pakistani national,” Dawnnews said.

“However, the authorities wanted to be doubly sure of his identity as there existed no record of Kasab and his family in the National Data Base which is maintained by NADRA. Details of the preliminary investigations submitted to the government have still not been made public,” it added.

The official said Kasab is the son of Amir Kasab and Mrs Noor Illahi.

The identity of others militants killed in Mumbai carnage is yet to be established but senior security officials told Dawnnews that preliminary investigations “have established that these militants were operating on their own and had absolutely no link with any section of the country’s security apparatus.

“A formal announcement in this regard is expected in the next few days,” Dawnnews said.

In other developments Wednesday, Defence Minister A.K. Antony asserted that India had “all available and possible options” open and asked Pakistan to book those who gave “inspiration, direction and support” to the Mumbai attacks and to “dismantle” the terror outfits functioning from its territory.

“There are two things. Those persons who gave inspiration, direction and support (to the terrorists in Mumbai) should be booked. Secondly, more than 30 terror outfits are active across the border. To dismantle them is the duty of the (Pakistani) government,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

“After 26/11, there are no serious attempts to disband the terror outfits across the border and that is a major worry…. We are examining all available, possible options to prevent a repeat of this kind of infiltration and tragic incidents like what happened in Mumbai,” Antony said, declining to elaborate on the options available.

On its part, the US reiterated that the Mumbai attacks originated from Pakistan, but wanted New Delhi and Islamabad to work together to bring those responsible to justice and prevent future attacks.

“Well, we’ve talked about the origins of the attack coming from Pakistani soil. Secretary (of State Condoleeza) Rice, during her visit to the region, said that herself,” State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday.

But “I would look at one part of this exchange as encouraging; that is, that there is an exchange of information here between India and Pakistan,” he said when asked if the US shared India’s conclusion that those responsible for the Mumbai attacks were at least supported by official agencies in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s spy chief has categorically stated there would not be a war with India in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and that Islamabad’s enemy is not its eastern neighbour but terrorism.

“We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds. We know fully well that terror is our enemy, not India,” Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in an interview.

“There will not be a war,” he declared confidently, adding: “We are distancing ourselves from conflict with India, both now and in general.”

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