Pakistan says Mumbai attackers could be Pakistanis


New Delhi : After weeks of denial, Pakistan Tuesday said for the first time that the perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem could be Pakistani nationals.

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“Could be… could be – that’s all I will say as of now, while the investigations are still being completed,” Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani told the CNN-IBN news channel in an interview from Islamabad.

Durrani’s comments are significant as Pakistan has officially denied any link with the Mumbai terror strikes and even refused to acknowledge the nationality of Muhammed Amir Ajmal alias Kasab, the lone attacker who was captured alive and is in the custody of the Mumbai police.

Pakistan persisted in its denial mode even after the Indian external affairs ministry forwarded a letter from Kasab to Pakistan’s acting high commissioner in New Delhi Afrasiab, saying that he and other nine gunmen who attacked Mumbai were Pakistanis.

Pakistan also did not respond to Kasab’s request for consular access.

“We have got that letter. I have seen that letter. We have been provided some intelligence information and based on these intelligence information we are working out,” Durrani said.

“There could be possible connection and we are looking at that… but we don’t have proof,” he said.

Durrani also denied any troops build-up by the Pakistani army and sought to rebut reports about Pakistan creating war hysteria in the wake of the Mumbai carnage.

“I think what happens in the situations like this … truth becomes the casualty. The bottomline is, Pakistan does not want confrontation with India because it is neither in the interest of India nor in the interest of Pakistan,” he said.

“We in Pakistan want to cooperate with India to get rid of the region of terrorist agenda and I think it is mandatory if we don’t play in the hands of the bad guy,” he stressed.

“I would like to say that we are not mobilised… we are not on a high alert,” he said.

“Yes, some elements of our military would be on high alert because the worry is that probably there has been limited amount of mobilisation from India. This is our assessment and to protect our self there was a level of alert not more than…It was a reaction more than an action,” he said.