LAHORE, PAKISTAN – On Thursday, Pakistan admitted for the first time that last November's terrorist attacks on Mumbai were planned, at least partly, on Pakistani soil, signaling perhaps a new willingness to bring those responsible to justice after months of delays. But the government also seemed keen to dispel the notion that there was any official link between the attackers and any government agencies, instead portraying itself, along with other countries, as a hapless victim.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik told a press conference that "some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan," adding that eight people had been arrested – including a few named by India as masterminds.
But he also unveiled a slew of foreign links pointing to a network of "non-state actors" providing logistical support from around the globe. These include:
- Internet phone accounts arranged in Barcelona
- a digital teleconferencing system in Houston
- the use of Indian mobile phone connections
- a domain name registered in Russia
- a satellite phone registered in a Middle Eastern country
- further links to Austria and Italy.
Criticism, pressure from India
After 164 people were killed in Mumbai over three days last November, India was quick to point the finger at its long-standing rival for not doing enough to stop terrorists from using their territory as a base. (Read the Monitor's article about that here.)
It was not until early January that Pakistan admitted that Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the attacks, was a Pakistani, while government officials have over the past few days been pushing a Bangladesh link. As little as eight days ago, Pakistan's ambassador to the UK denied the attacks had been planned in Pakistan. The government, it appears, is keen to dispel the notion that there was any official link between the attackers and any government agencies, instead portraying itself, along with other countries, as a hapless victim.
Admission coincides with US envoy's visit
The admission also coincides with a visit to the region by the newly-named US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke – the Monitor wrote about his 'listening tour' on Wednesday. (It may be worth noting that the Pakistani government's apparent about-face on releasing disgraced nuclear scientist Dr. AQ Khan's was attributed by the Pakistani media to Holbrooke's visit.]
India, meanwhile had termed the developments as "positive" but added Pakistan must now dismantle the "infrastructure of terrorism" on its soil.