Pakistan Link to Mumbai Attack Questioned
As India continues to point the finger at neighboring Pakistan for a deadly terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed at least 172 people a week ago, government officials and security experts are urging patience in order to sort out truth from speculation.
India has accused Yusuf Muzammil, a senior leader of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, of coordinating the attack, The Wall Street Journal reported. A senior Mumbai police official told the newspaper that two days before the attack, the group of 10 terrorists who took hostages talked with terrorist group leaders via satellite phone. The group also underwent training in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the official said.
Muzammil was on a list of 20 people India has asked Pakistan to extradite. Pakistani officials have promised to look into the alleged role of "nonstate actors," a phrase that usually refers to militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. President Asif Ali Zardari pledged quick action against anyone proven to be involved. (The State Department has been reluctant to say whether Pakistan had a role in the attack, except to say a group at least partly based in the country is believed responsible, The Associated Press reports.)
Meanwhile, a former Defense Department official told The New York Times that former officers from Pakistan's Army and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped train the Mumbai terrorists, although there was no known link to the current government. (The ties to former officers, if substantiated, could prove to be a point of serious contention between India and Pakistan, which has denied any state involvement in the attack.)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, speaking in New Delhi to reporters, has tried to play a role of neutral mediator as information about the attackers has leaked out. She has urged Pakistan to "act quickly" in turning over information to Indian authorities, Reuters reports, but also stressed that any hasty move by India could yield "unintended consequences," according to The Times.
Steve Coll, writing for The New Yorker, noted that India will likely try to find evidence of direct state sponsorship by Pakistan in the attacks, but such evidence might be hard to come by.
"If past investigations into such groups prove to be any guide, it may be difficult to find clear-cut evidence of direct involvement by Pakistani intelligence or army personnel," Coll wrote last week. "This is because Pakistan, knowing the stakes of getting caught red-handed, has increasingly pursued its clandestine proxy war against India in Kashmir and on the Indian mainland through layers and layers of self-managing and non-state groups."
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