Islamabad, Feb.13 (ANI): Pakistan may have acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that parts of the Mumbai terrorist attacks were planned on its soil, but officials in Washington are seeing the development as a political salvo aimed at easing tensions with India.
The New York Times quoted an official of the US State Department as saying that the acknowledgement by Pakistan was a "political decision" to ease tensions with India.
While the paper says that Islamabad's admission amounted to a significant about-face, a Pentagon spokesman, who did not want to be named, said the Pakistani decision may have been an effort by the civilian government to "poke a stick" at the Pakistani military and intelligence service, which helped set up Lashkar in the 1980s as a proxy force to challenge India's control of Kashmir, the disputed border region.
In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Robert A. Wood, said, "I think it shows that Pakistan is serious about doing what it can to deal with the people that may have perpetrated these attacks."
Sajjan M. Gohel, director for international security of the Asia Pacific Foundation in London, who has closely followed the Mumbai investigations, said there was no denying that Pakistan had been under pressure from the United States.
"This is unprecedented. It is the first time Pakistan has acknowledged an attack on India has originated on its soil," the NYT quoted him, as saying.
According to the paper, both India and the United States have put strong pressure on Pakistan for some concession regarding the Mumbai attacks, which American officials feared were distracting Pakistan from the task of battling militants from the Taliban and Al Qaeda who have bases inside Pakistani territory.
Indian officials have previously blamed Lashkar for an attack in 2000 on the Red Fort in New Delhi, as well as involvement in an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. Pakistan never acknowledged any Lashkar role in those attacks. The group is officially banned, though it has continued to operate openly.
The Pakistan Government's Interior Adviser Rehman Malik's statements appear to vindicate many of India's accusations of Pakistani involvement. (ANI)