Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Wednesday rejected Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s assertion of “state support” to the terrorists behind 26/11 massacre, saying the Inter-Services Intelligence was a target of “propaganda campaign”.
“We are proud of our ISI, which is defending Pakistan,” Mr. Malik said adding the ISI’s role in the war on terror was “well recognised by everybody” but the spy agency was the target of a propaganda campaign.
He repeatedly dismissed assertions by Indian leaders, including Mr. Chidambaram, that Pakistani state and non-state actors were involved in the Mumbai attacks and stoutly defended the ISI as an “elite agency”.
Mr. Chidambaram on Wednesday said there was clearly state support to the terrorists responsible for the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai.
“When I say, state actors, at the moment, I am not pointing my finger at any particular agency. But clearly there was state support or state actors’ support for the 26/11 massacre,” he said.
His comments came in the backdrop of the arrest and interrogation of LeT handler Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jindal, who was in the “control room” in Pakistan giving directions to the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008.
Mr. Malik also launched a tirade against India’s investigations into various terror attacks and also sought to stump the arrest of Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari.
“Now things are getting clarified. Who knows that there was a sting operation by somebody from India?” Mr. Malik told a news conference at the Interior Ministry on Wednesday afternoon. He however did not elaborate what he meant by a “sting operation”.
Referring to Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari, and two other Indian suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks — Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed — Mr. Malik said: “If the three people can come to Pakistan they can mix up with the people here. They can generate the resources and then they go back and the Mumbai (attacks) happen. So any reasonable investigator will be forced to think”.
Speaking against the backdrop of revelations by Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari about the planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Malik called on Indian authorities to provide detailed information about the terror suspect so that Pakistan could take necessary action.
However, he contended that Indian authorities and Mr. Chidambaram would have to focus on the role of Indians like Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari, Fahim Ansari and Ahmed in the Mumbai attacks.
“Zabiuddin is Indian, he was caught in India, he did everything in India. Why are you blaming Pakistan? He is your citizen. That means your agencies failed to control their citizen. Please have a look at your system as well.“
Mr. Malik claimed the involvement of Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari in the Mumbai attacks meant “there is some mole, there is something wrong in your system too”, and that India should stop blaming the ISI for all terrorist incidents.
He said inquiries had revealed that Mr. Zabiuddin Ansari had not entered Pakistan through “frequent routes” and could have illegally crossed the border.