US to seek UN sanctions against top Pakistani Lashkar backers: WSJ

December 9th, 2008 - 10:46 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Dec 9 (IANS) The US wants the United Nations to put several prominent Pakistanis on a financial blacklist for their alleged support of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the prime suspect in the Mumbai terror attacks, a US media report said.The Wall Street Journal said “diplomats familiar with the matter” wouldn’t identify the names of the Pakistani individuals being targeted by the US, but they are expected to include some former leaders of Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

The daily cited Hamid Gul, former chief of Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, as saying Pakistani officials told him he is a target of sanctions proposed by the US, and calling allegations that he supports terrorism “fictitious”.

Gul was quoted as saying in an interview Monday that Pakistani officials told him he is a target of the proposed sanctions.

“I think I hurt them [the US] because I talk about their atrocities and because I morally support the Afghan jihad,” Gul was quoted as saying. “The Americans are the aggressors so I support our brothers in the Taliban.”

He the Journal said called allegations that he supports terrorism “seditious, fictitious. There’s not truth in it,”

According to the diplomats cited by the US daily, the Bush administration is attempting to sanction the Pakistanis through a committee of the UN Security Council that targets individuals and organizations believed to be assisting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The committee blacklisted Lashkar in 2005.

All 15 Security Council members must sign off on the sanctions, including permanent member China. Beijing’s support is seen as particularly meaningful because it has close strategic ties with Islamabad.

“We think an action could be imminent - within the next couple of days,” a diplomat involved in the matter was quoted as saying by the Journal.

Under the sanctions, UN member states would be obligated to freeze the assets of the Pakistanis and deny them travel visas. US intelligence officials have long believed that the ISI played a central role in creating Lashkar-e-Taiba to fight India over the disputed region of Kashmir.

However, American officials cited by the Journal say they haven’t found any formal connection between the Mumbai attackers and active members of the Pakistani government or its security forces.

Gul was once a critical player in the CIA’s campaign during the 1980s to roll back Moscow’s presence in Afghanistan, according to the retired general and former US intelligence officials. Gul ran the ISI from 1987 to 1989, when billions of dollars of US aid and munitions flowed through Pakistan supporting mujahedeen fighters.

“I was quite a darling of theirs at one time. I don’t know what this is about. It looks like they have a habit of betraying their friends,” Gul was quoted as telling the Journal in the interview.

Among the other individuals providing funding and arms to the Afghan mujahedeen was Osama bin Laden. Gul said he didn’t meet bin Laden until after the end of the war.

“It was the CIA officials who used to romanticise him, talking, glowing about his contributions to the Afghan resistance,” he said.

Gul said the US actually went to the UN to seek financial sanctions and a travel ban against him two months ago. “It has nothing to do about the Bombay (Mumbai) incident,” he said.

“I was informed about it by my friends, and then I went to the [Pakistan] foreign office and they confirmed it for me.”

As for possible financial sanctions, he said: “I have no financial assets other than the house I live in. I don’t see how they can take that away.”

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