Special Correspondent

"Not clinching, but we have connectivity on 7/11"

New Delhi: National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan has described the evidence of Pakistani involvement in last July's terrorist blasts in Mumbai as "pretty good" but not "clinching."

Mr. Narayanan said the evidence gathered by the Mumbai police "is as good ... as we can possibly get in terrorist cases" but that it was up to the courts to decide whether it was clinching or not. "We have connectivity, linkages, confessions. We have a number of arrests which are pretty good. But there are pieces of the puzzle which are not available. I would hesitate to say we have clinching evidence but we have pretty good evidence."

His remarks were made in an interview to a CNN-IBN programme, `Devil's Advocate,' broadcast on Sunday.

Describing the proposed joint anti-terror mechanism as "a long rope to Pakistan," Mr. Narayanan said New Delhi was giving Islamabad "an opportunity to prove in deeds what they have said in words" about not allowing Pakistani territory to be used for terrorist acts against India. "[S]ince we are not prepared [for] hot pursuit and that kind of stuff, let us see what Pakistan does with the evidence we give them. We hope to be able to give them specific locations, specific names, specific telephones. If Pakistan delivers on some, even if not all, then at least we'll feel the mechanism is reasonably successful."

Mr. Narayanan said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saw terrorism as India's biggest problem and "sees most of the threat has come from across the border, from Pakistan." But he added that Dr. Singh "does not want ... to get into a huge slanging match and the rather unseemly spectacle of the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan exchanging words through the media, outside the media, across the globe."

Asked about the extent of the Pakistan Government's alleged involvement in terrorist acts, Mr. Narayanan said: "The fact that the ISI is involved is fairly well-known. I think it is not a secret as far as India is concerned ... As far as the Mumbai Police Commissioner is concerned, the involvement of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is closely linked to the ISI, has been proven by the investigation. So I suppose the Mumbai Police Commissioner is right."

In terms of the concrete shape that the joint instrumentality would take, he said India had a "two-tier mechanism" in mind.

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