Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Navy chief Noman Bashir appeared to contradict his government’s Interior Ministry on Friday with remarks that he saw no evidence yet to suggest that the Mumbai attackers left from Karachi, but he also did not rule out the possibility.

Earlier this month, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said the Federal Investigation Agency found that the 10 men had left the Thatta coast in Karachi in three boats. The investigators tracked down the boats and their crews. They raided two houses in the port city allegedly used by the men.

The government then filed a case against eight Pakistanis for their suspected part in planning and abetting in the Mumbai attacks. Four of the men have been remanded to FIA custody by an anti-terrorism court.

The military spokesman was unavailable for comment on the Navy chief’s remarks. Admiral Bashir was responding to journalists’ questions in Karachi how the Mumbai attackers had left Pakistan’s shores without being detected by the Navy.

“Whether Ajmal ‘Kasab’ went from Pakistan or not, no evidence has been provided to us … It is [the Indian] claim that some people got into boats from here and went there. Until there is any evidence to support this, it is difficult to comment.

“According to the information available to me, there is nothing to show that Ajmal left from here. But if there is evidence to support it, we will definitely look into it.”

Stringent checks

The Navy chief, whose brother Salman Bashir is the Foreign Secretary, said Pakistan had stringent checks at its harbours and ports, to keep a check on who was going out or coming in.

“But it is possible that someone evaded the checks and slipped out. Did Ajmal go from here? It is not in my knowledge, and there is no evidence about it. But even if he did, when they entered the Indian waters, where was [the Indian] Coast Guard, where was the Indian Navy, which claims that it is about to become a global navy? They have radar networks, shore points, so many things.”

Many questions

There were many questions, Admiral Bashir said, to which there were no answers yet. “But the government of Pakistan and the government of India are in touch with each other on this issue, and if some more information comes forward, we will definitely look into, because we don’t want to hide anything,” he said.

In a separate development, the government sacked Deputy Attorney-General Sardar Ghazi, who was appointed special prosecutor in the Mumbai attacks case only a few days ago. The reasons were not immediately clear.

Mr. Ghazi was known to be close to the former Attorney-General Malik Qayyum, and was appointed by the previous regime. The new Attorney-General Sardar Latif Khosa is said to be building his own team.

Dawn News speculated that his removal was connected to statements he made immediately after taking charge as special prosecutor that Pakistan had made a formal request to India for handing over Ajmal, as he was vital to the prosecution. The Foreign Ministry had to deny that a formal request had been made.

Related stories

  • Mumbai Terror Attack - Final Form/Report
  • Mumbai Terror attacks - Dossier of evidence
  • Mumbai terror: Comprehensive coverage
  • Images: Mumbai Aftermath
  • Images: End of Mumbai siege
  • Mumbai terror attacks in pictures
  • Mumbai terror attacks in pictures - 2
  • Mumbai terror attacks in pictures - 3
  • Ratan Tata's press meet - Podcast
  • More In: Today's Paper