Pakistani Militants At Center Of Probe
India, Its Archrival Vow to Cooperate Amid High Tension

By Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service 
Saturday, November 29, 2008; Page A01 

BERLIN, Nov. 28 -- Pakistani militant groups on Friday became the focus of the 
investigation into the attacks in Mumbai as India and its archrival Pakistan 
jousted over who was responsible. Both sides pledged to cooperate in the probe, 
but tensions remained high amid fears the conflict could escalate. 

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Pakistan initially said Friday that it had agreed to send its spy chief, Lt. 
Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, on an unprecedented visit to India to share and obtain 
information from investigators there. Later Friday, however, Pakistani 
officials changed their minds and decided to send a less senior intelligence 
official in Pasha's place, according to a Pakistani source who spoke on the 
condition of anonymity. 

It was unclear what prompted the reversal, but the Pakistani source said the 
Islamabad government was "already bending over backwards" to be cooperative and 
did not "want to create more opportunities for Pakistan-bashing." Pakistan's 
defense minister, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, told reporters in Islamabad, "I will 
say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory 

Meanwhile, Indian authorities ramped up their accusations that the plot had 
Pakistani connections. "Preliminary evidence, prima facie evidence, indicates 
elements with links to Pakistan are involved," Indian Foreign Minister Pranab 
Mukherjee said at a news conference in New Delhi. Other Indian officials echoed 
the statement, but none provided details. 

Evidence collected by police in Mumbai, along with intelligence gathered by 
U.S. and British officials, has led investigators to concentrate their focus on 
Islamist militants in Pakistan who have long sought to spark a war over the 
disputed province of Kashmir. India and Pakistan have already fought two wars 
over Kashmir, the battleground between Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority 
Pakistan that each country claimed soon after India's partition in 1947. 

A U.S. counterterrorism official said additional evidence has emerged in the 
past 24 hours that points toward a Kashmiri connection. "Some of what has been 
learned so far does fall in that direction," the official said, declining to 
offer specifics. 

"We have to be careful here," said the official, speaking on the condition of 
anonymity. "When you posit a Kashmiri connection, that puts Pakistan on the 
table. That is huge, enormous, but what does it mean? It can be anything from 
people who were [initially] in Pakistan, to maybe people who used to be 
associated with someone in the Pakistani government, to any gradation you could 

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who has sought a rapprochement with New 
Delhi, rejected widespread suspicions in India that Pakistani intelligence 
services may have supported the Mumbai gunmen. "The germs of terrorist elements 
were not produced in security agencies' labs in Pakistan," he said Friday. 

Analysts said Pakistan's pledge to assist in the investigation and send its spy 
chief to India was a sign of the high stakes involved. When armed Kashmiri 
militants tried to take over the Indian Parliament in December 2001, the 
fallout was immediate, as both countries responded with a massive military 
buildup along their shared border. 

"A Pakistani link here would be so utterly damaging, all the way around, to 
Indo-Pakistani relations," said Shaun Gregory, a professor of international 
security at the University of Bradford in England and a specialist on Pakistan. 
The decision to dispatch Pasha to India, he said, "does signal a determination 
on Pakistan's part to clarify that even if there's a Pakistani link here, that 
it had nothing to do with the government." 

A senior Pakistani official said the idea for Pasha's visit came during a 
telephone conversation Friday between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. Singh, who had previously blamed 
the Mumbai attacks on groups "based outside the country," offered to provide 
evidence to Gillani. 

"One way to ensure that" was to send Pakistan's intelligence chief, the 
Pakistani official said. "If there is evidence, share it." 

Although privately angered by the implication of Singh's public remarks that 
Pakistan may have been involved, Gillani's government has emphasized that 
Pakistan, too, has been victimized by terrorists and that the two countries 
should work together against the threat. 

Tensions between India and Pakistan have remained raw since July, when a 
suicide bomber targeted the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing 58 people, 
including the Indian defense attache to Afghanistan. U.S. intelligence 
officials later said there was evidence that Pakistan's Inter-Services 
Intelligence agency had sponsored the attack. Pakistan's government denied 

Gregory, the British analyst, said Pakistan had a clear motive for the embassy 
bombing because it has grown alarmed at rising Indian influence in Afghanistan. 
But he said he doubted that Pakistan's military or intelligence services would 
have foreseen any benefit from what has transpired in Mumbai. "I cannot see, at 
this point, any conceivable advantage for the Pakistani state in this attack," 
he said. 

U.S., British and Indian counterterrorism officials and analysts said that 
Lashkar-i-Taiba, an Islamist network based in Pakistan, remained a primary 
suspect in the Mumbai disaster. They cautioned, however, that any number of 
other groups, including Muslim radicals from India, could have played a role. 

Shortly after the attacks began, an organization calling itself the Deccan 
Mujaheddin asserted responsibility in e-mails to Indian media. But authorities 
said they had never heard of the group and questioned whether it was a front 
for others. 

Lashkar-i-Taiba, which means Army of the Pious, was founded as a guerrilla 
group to fight the Indian army in Kashmir and received support from Pakistan's 
military and intelligence agencies as a proxy force. Under pressure from the 
United States, the Pakistani government banned the group after the Sept. 11, 
2001, attacks, but analysts said it continues to enjoy the backing of some 
Pakistani politicians and security officials. It also has operated joint 
training camps in Pakistan with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. 

The tactics involved in the Mumbai attacks have been embraced before by 
Lashkar-i-Taiba. The group has routinely trained gunmen -- called "fedayeen," 
or fighters who volunteer to sacrifice themselves in battle -- to carry out 
operations in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. 

Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for 
International Peace in Washington who formerly served at the U.S. Embassy in 
New Delhi, said if India can prove Lashkar-i-Taiba was culpable, "then the 
stress on the relationship becomes really acute." 

Lashkar was one of the groups that Pakistani intelligence "favored for all its 
dirty work in Kashmir and elsewhere," Tellis said. "The whole question of 
Pakistan's involvement itself is difficult because there are so many 
'Pakistans.' . . . There is the intelligence agency, the army, the civilian 
government. I cannot imagine that the civilian government would have anything 
to do with an operation like this." 

Indian officials said that at least some of the gunmen arrived in Mumbai by 
boat and that the group included Pakistani nationals, although they did not 
offer firm evidence to back up that assertion. 

Other Indian officials said Friday that two of the gunmen were British citizens 
of Pakistani descent. British officials said they were investigating the report 
but had been unable to corroborate it. Meanwhile, a team of counterterrorism 
officials from Scotland Yard left for India to assist in the investigation. 

The FBI has also sent a team of about half a dozen investigators to India, 
although government sources said it was not clear the extent to which the 
Indians would allow the U.S. agents to participate. The FBI maintains a 
permanent office at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and the agents will operate 
as part of the existing "country team." 

DeYoung reported from Washington. 



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