Pakistan scrambled Friday to avoid a dangerous crisis with India over the terror attacks in Mumbai, sending its spy chief to share intelligence and countering Indian charges that "elements in Pakistan" were behind the carnage.
By STEPHEN GRAHAM
Associated Press Writer
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan scrambled Friday to avoid a dangerous crisis with India over the terror attacks in Mumbai, sending its spy chief to share intelligence and countering Indian charges that "elements in Pakistan" were behind the carnage.
Clear Pakistani fingerprints on the attacks would endanger fragile peace talks between the nuclear-armed rivals and U.S. efforts to persuade Pakistan to focus on al-Qaida Taliban militants along the Afghan border.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted Friday that such evidence would not be found.
"I am saying it clearly that Pakistan has nothing to do with this incident. Pakistan has no link with this act," Gilani said. "We condemn it. The whole nation condemns it."
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947. They remain at odds over the divided territory of Kashmir, and New Delhi has accused Pakistan of complicity in a string of terrorist acts on its soil.
The tension has eased in recent years, and the pro-Western government formed in Islamabad after February elections has made eye-catching overtures toward its neighbor.
India's foreign minister on Friday ratcheted up the accusations over the brazen and well-planned attacks in its financial capital which began Wednesday night and killed more than 150 people, including 22 foreigners.
"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible," Pranab Mukherjee said. "Proof cannot be disclosed at this time."
Indian home minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal said a captured gunmen had been identified as a Pakistani.
Still, Mukherjee's comment suggested that militant groups based in Pakistan were suspected in the attack, rather than Pakistani authorities.
New Delhi's past complaints about Pakistan — shared by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and some in Washington — have centered on its Inter Services Intelligence agency.
Kashmiri militants as well as the Taliban have served as proxies for Pakistan to exert influence in India and Afghanistan in the past, and there are doubts that Pakistan's military, which controls the ISI, has fully abandoned that policy.
Pakistani leaders have vigorously defended the agency, and complained that their country is being scape-goated for Western failures in Afghanistan. Still, they have also made moves to reform the ISI, including appointing a new chief in September.
Gilani said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told him in a telephone call on Friday that there were "some indications" linking the Mumbai attack to Karachi, a chaotic metropolis on Pakistan's Arabia Sea coast where a host of Islamic militant groups have a presence.
Gilani provided no details. However, he said he had granted Singh's wish that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, hurry to India in person to share intelligence.
The highly symbolic move raised apprehensions among analysts and politicians in Pakistan.
"It's almost admitting that someone from ISI is involved in this. I think it's highly irresponsible," said Tariq Azeem, an opposition leader.
But Gilani said Pakistan had "nothing to hide."
The state of relations between Pakistan and India is vital for U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Incoming President-elect Barack Obama has said normalizing ties between the two South Asian countries will be a major plank of his broader campaign to stabilize Afghanistan.
Friday's agreement and a series of Pakistani pledges of assistance and solidarity, suggest a crisis might be averted.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also called Singh on Friday and cautioned against falling into the "trap of militants" by launching into mutual recriminations.
"The president said the government will cooperate with India in exposing and apprehending the culprits and the master minds behind the attack," Zardari's office said in a statement.
Zardari points to the loss of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to a gun-and-bomb attack last December to burnish his anti-terrorist credentials.
He raised eyebrows in both countries at the weekend by declaring that India posed no threat to Pakistan and promising that Islamabad would not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Zardari also called for their heavily militarized border to be opened for trade.
But his control of Pakistan's powerful security agencies remains in doubt.
Kashmiri militants were blamed for attacking the parliament in New Delhi in 2001, a strike that brought the countries close to their fourth war.
While there has been less infiltration in recent years into Kashmir, India accused the ISI of helping Taliban militants bomb its embassy in the Afghan capital in July, killing 58 people.