Mumbai Attacks Planned in Pakistan

Yesterday Pakistan acknowledged what the Indians have been saying all along, that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November were planned in Pakistan and executed by Pakistanis with the assistance of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani officials took what could be a decisive step forward in the country’s fight against Islamic extremism Thursday, publicly admitting for the first time that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were planned in and launched from Pakistan .

“Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan ,” Rehman Malik , the top security official in the Interior Ministry , told a news conference in Islamabad . “I want to assure the international community, I want to assure all those who have been victims of terrorism, that we mean business.”

Before the announcement, Pakistani officials had denied that there was any proof that its citizens were involved in the November Mumbai bombings, which killed some 170 people and pushed nuclear-armed Pakistan and India to the verge of war. Indian officials Thursday promptly welcomed the Pakistani admission as a “positive development.”

However, the attacks had international implications as well:

Investigators also discovered that the attackers had made extensive use of Internet and telephone communications from Texas to Europe and the Middle East . A man named Javed Iqbal who lived in Barcelona , for instance, set up some of the Internet phone accounts — which were paid for in Italy. Iqbal was “lured” back to Pakistan during the investigation and detained, officials said. The attackers in Mumbai used phones to keep in touch with their handlers throughout the operation.

Malik stressed that the conspirators were “non-state actors,” a response to Indian allegations that Pakistan — especially its Inter-Services Intelligence agency — helped orchestrate the attack.

Some Indian commenters have attributed Pakistan’s admission to pressure from the West:

NEW DELHI: Why did Pakistan do a volteface on the Mumbai attacks? After flinging around disinformation for the past few weeks, tossing names from Austria to UK, US and Bangladesh, what possessed the government of Asif Ali Zardari to tread the straight and narrow?

It’s easy to detect the hand of US and western pressure, particularly as it came a day after US special envoy Richard Holbrooke exited Islamabad. Even if Mumbai was not discussed with Holbrooke, as Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi insisted, a phone call from US President Barack Obama to Zardari on Wednesday had an entirely different effect.

According to sources, Pakistan’s admission had a lot to do with its precarious finances and a threat of aid cut-off by the US which is trying to undercut its dependence on Islamabad for the success of the fight against Taliban.

Former high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy said, “Pakistan’s acknowledgement of reality was brought about by relentless US pressure despite lack of concrete Indian action.”

However it came about it’s a positive development and that’s how the Indians seem to be taking it. Some are saying that Pakistan needs to go substantially farther:

New Delhi (IANS): A day after Pakistan acknowledged the role of its nationals in the Mumbai atrocity, India Friday asked Islamabad to “unveil the full conspiracy” behind the assault and said it would continue to review actions taken by it to bring its perpetrators to justice.

Addressing the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee termed the Pakistani response a “positive development” and underlined that it was imperative that they act with sincerity and effectiveness to get to the bottom of the crime.

He also said India would share “whatever we can” in response to Pakistan’s queries over its investigation

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.