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Mumbai terrorist attacks partially planned in Pakistan

Islamabad hands over Mumbai probe report to New Delhi

Mumbai attacks partially planned in Pakistan: Malik

* Interior adviser claims arrest of main operator in attacks, five others
* Says Pakistan needs more information from India
* System of several countries used to launch attacks

By Sajjad Malik/Tahir Niaz

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has formally handed over the details of its investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks to India, the Foreign Office said on Thursday as Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik admitted that the attacks were ‘partially planned’ in Pakistan.

“The Indian high commissioner was … [on Thursday given] material pertaining to the Mumbai terror attacks probe by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), by the foreign secretary,” said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit.

Arrests: Meanwhile at a press conference, Rehman Malik announced ‘breakthrough’ arrests in the Mumbai probe, and admitted that the Mumbai attacks were partially planned in Pakistan. He said some of the suspects were linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LT). Rehman said a case was registered on Thursday under the Anti-Terrorism Act against eight suspects – including LT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hammad Amin and Zarar Shah – on charges of “abetting, directing, conspiring and facilitating a terrorist act”. Six of these suspects are in the custody of intelligence agencies, and all will be tried under Pakistani law.

“Some funds for the attacks were transferred from Spain and Italy,” he said.

Karachi: Rehman said the suspects used three boats, all of which have been seized, to sail from Karachi to Mumbai between November 26 and 28, 2008.

More information: Rehman, however, said these findings were not final and Pakistan needed more information from India. He said the Indian authorities had been asked to answer 30 questions raised by the Pakistani investigators.

Other countries: The adviser said “the system of various other countries” was also used to plan the attacks. Rehman said two more men were being held, and identified them only as Khan and Riaz. Other leads pointed to Europe and the US, and Malik said Pakistan would ask the FBI for help. (Daily Times)


Editorial: India should appreciate Pakistan’s efforts

The press statement by Rehman Malik, the prime minister’s advisor on interior, on the Mumbai attacks and Pakistan’s investigative follow-up is significant. It proves, without doubt, that Islamabad has been pursuing the case diligently and in line with its promise to do so. It also indicates, if such proof were ever required, that the government was sincere in condemning the Mumbai attack and was not complicit in it, a wild allegation made by India as part of its diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan and paint it as a sponsor of terrorism.

Mr Malik told the press Thursday that it was an extensive plan and some part of the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. He said that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind, is already in custody while six other accused have been arrested. Two other wanted men are still at large. One of those in custody, according to Malik, was “lured back to Pakistan from the Spanish city of Barcelona”. He also revealed that the attackers and their handlers used Austrian SIM cards for communication and there was also a link to Houston, Texas. The bit about the Austrian SIM cards dovetails with some detail in the Indian dossier about the communication mode of the attackers. Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have still not been able to determine the identities of the nine attackers killed in the 3-day shoot-out, though the one captured alive has been accepted as a Pakistani national.

This is good work and, as we have said earlier in our editorials, concerned agencies in Pakistan have been on this case even before India officially sent in its dossier. Let it also be said that this work did not stop even when Indian officials began to threaten Pakistan with a military response. Pakistan kept its cool in the face of aggression by the Indian media and the government but obviously enhanced its air and ground vigilance against any possible Indian adventurism. Now, with Mr Malik’s statement, it should be obvious that India needed to have shown more patience because putting together the links of such an extensive and sophisticated plan needs time.

There are two other important factors that we have to keep in mind. One, without doubt, Mr Malik has disclosed less than what the investigators know at this stage and for sound reasons too. There are likely to be more strands that need to be identified. Investigators cannot, in most such cases, put everything on the table because it can compromise their work. Even now, Mr Malik has probably had to come on record on these disclosures because India has made this into a political game of blaming Pakistan. Something needed to be revealed to relieve the pressure on Pakistan by India. Two, even at this stage, there may not be enough evidence to stand in a court of law. Pakistan has been rightly pointing to this problem. Whenever this case goes to court, it being a criminal case, the onus of responsibility for proving it will lie on the prosecution, not the defence. Trial lawyers know how difficult that can be. There are innumerable cases where culprits have walked out despite pieces of incriminating but circumstantial evidence against them. Hence the evidence, even if circumstantial, must add up to become conclusive, or at least largely so. This is another aspect that makes the job of putting together a watertight case so tedious and difficult.

At this stage, however, it is evident that Pakistan has covered impressive distance in unearthing the broad strands of this plan. Given its efforts, we should expect more disclosures in the near future. There is also a requirement for India to cooperate with Pakistan, a fact that Islamabad has long stressed. The dossier itself is not enough.

So, the questions we have to ask are: What more does India know? When and how will it share this with Pakistan? Interestingly, an Indian team has gone to the US to share evidence with the FBI. That’s fine, but how about doing the same with Pakistan? Surely, India cannot continue to blame Pakistan and press for results without being fully cooperative. This is where politics comes in. New Delhi has already pressed the pause button on the normalisation process, depriving itself and Pakistan of the one mechanism for cooperation that could have helped matters. It now makes eminent sense that it should press the play button again so things can move forward. That’s what we are hoping for because there is no alternative to a dialogue framework. (Daily Times)