India's Mumbai evidence 'could be fabricated,' says Pakistani diplomat
Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain said the November 2008 terror assault in Mumbai, India, was planned outside of his country and said India may have "fabricated" the dossier of evidence presented earlier this month.
"Pakistani territory was not used so far as the investigators have made their conclusions," High Commissionaer Wajid Shamsul Hasan told NDTV. "It could have been some other place."
When asked about the validity of the Indian dossier of evidence, Hasan suggested India may have manufactured the information. The Indian dossier of evidence contained proof of calls made between the Mumbai terrorists and their handlers inside Pakistan as the attacks were ongoing, including transcripts of the handlers ordering the terrorists to murder the civilians then cheering over the phone.
"Well, it could be fabricated," Hasan said. "You took 45 days to give that sort of evidence although you started blaming Pakistan from day one." Statements similar to Hasan's have been leaked to the media over the past several days, but he is the first Pakistani official to go on the record.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has been implicated in the late November terror assault on the Indian city of Mumbai. The attack lasted more than 60 hours and resulted in 164 innocent victims and nine terrorists killed. The city was shut down as Indian security forces battled small teams of terrorists that had first infiltrated Mumbai by sea and then attacked at 10 locations throughout the city, including two major hotels. Elements within Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency and the military are believed to have aided in the attack.
Today's comments by Hasan triggered rebukes from both Pakistani and Indian leaders. Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said Hasan was wrong for commenting on the report but did nothing to dispute Hasan's claims that the plot was hatched outside of Pakistan and India "fabricated" the evidence.
"How can he comment? We can't right now," Gilani said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "If the PM cannot comment then how could he? It is only the job of the Interior Ministry. I assure you that my soil will not be used for terrorism and if anyone is found guilt the law will take its own course."
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed exasperation over the leaking of information to the press and and Pakistan's handling of the report. "Till now, we have not received any information from Pakistan," Mukherjee said. "Whatever we are hearing like you is through the media. This is not the way a government can respond."
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed the internal Mumbai investigation has been completed but is still being reviewed. "Pakistan has assured India and the world community that it is seriously making progress in the process of investigating the Mumbai attacks and wants to bring the culprits to justice," Qureshi said,
Today's misstep by Pakistan's senior diplomat to Britain is the latest in a series of fractured communications by the Pakistani government on the Mumbai attack. The most high-profile incident took place on Jan. 7, when Gilani dismissed Mehmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's National Security Advisor, after he disclosed that the lone surviving Mumbai terrorist is a Pakistani citizen. Just hours after Durrani was dismissed, other officials confirmed Durrani's statement. Pakistan had denied the captured Mumbai terrorist was a citizen despite confirmation from his father and other residents of his home village.
Pakistan has also presented conflicting information on the detention of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Officials said Azhar was detained on Dec. 7. Later, Pakistani officials denied Azhar was in custody. It was rumored that Azhar fled in North Waziristan.