Gilani calls Manmohan, agrees to send ISI chief to India (Lead, Changing dateline)

November 28th, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi/Islamabad, Nov 28 (IANS) Pakistan Friday agreed to send the chief of its spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to share information over the deadly terror attack in Mumbai after India blamed “some elements in Pakistan” for engineering the strike. Pakistan was quick to deny the charge of the alleged complicity of Pakistan-based terrorists in the attack and asked India not to “play politics”, saying the two countries need to tackle this menace together.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requested his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to send the ISI chief when the latter telephoned him in the morning, official sources said.

Official sources in Islamabad said Gilani agreed to the request.

This will be the first time Pakistan’s spy agency chief will be visiting India in connection with the probe of a terror attack.

ISI is headed by Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who was recently appointed to the post by army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

India and Pakistan deal with terrorism-related issues in home secretary-level talks and in the joint anti-terror mechanism they set up over two years ago.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is on a four-day visit to India, has suggested the setting up of a direct hotline between the intelligence chiefs of the two countries to bolster counter-terrorism cooperation.

Indian security agencies have said that the existing evidence pointed to the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) whose men used the sea route from Karachi to launch a string of coordinated terror strikes Wednesday night.

The terrorists targeted at least 10 places, including two five-star hotels, in Mumbai that has killed at least 143 people and left over 300 injured.

“According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in Jodhpur.

“Proof cannot be disclosed at this time,” he said.

“Please keep the [promise you made]. Please dismantle infrastructure (of terrorists), arrest them,” Mukherjee said while reminding Pakistan of its Jan 6, 2004 pledge not to allow its territory to be used for terror attacks against India.

Islamabad had reiterated this assurance at a meeting Manmohan Singh held with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the margins of the UN General Assembly session Sep 24.

Eminent strategic experts and Pakistan-watchers, too, blamed elements in Pakistan for masterminding and executing the terror strikes in Mumbai, but were not sure whether these elements enjoyed the patronage of the nine-month-old civilian government in that country.

“It could be rogue elements or jihadi elements in Pakistan who may not be under the control of the Pakistani government,” K. Subrahmanyam, a strategic expert, told IANS.

“We should tell the international community that Pakistan is a failing state which does not have control over people living in its territory. All these jihadi elements are freely roaming in the streets of Pakistan,” Subrahmanyam suggested.

G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, said it appeared to be the handiwork of the LeT. He pointed to the Deccan Mujahideen, a shadowy group which has claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attacks, and argued that no Indian, Hindu or Muslim, uses the word “Deccan” for the Indian city of Hyderabad.

“It’s a terminology that is used by only LeT. Their declared aim is to liberate the Muslim of India from Hindu rule, specially in the cities of Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir,” Parthasarathy said.

In an address to the nation Thursday, Manmohan Singh said India will take up “strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them”.

Manmohan Singh had said the “well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic by choosing high profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners”.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, however, denied any role of his country in the Mumbai attacks.

“Do not be jingoistic. Understand the sentiments behind it,” Qureshi told reporters in Ajmer in response to Mukherjee’s remarks.

“Understand that there are innocent people affected by it. We are fighting the same issue. We are facing the common enemy. Do not bring politics into it.

“This is a collective issue. We have to join hands (to fight terrorism,” Qureshi stressed.

In Islamabad, Zardari told Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohui and French Ambassador Daniel Jouanneau that terrorism is an international phenomena and offered assistance to India in investigating the incident.

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