Govt has proof of ISI hand; Pak vows to act

Written by Political Bureau | Agencies | New Delhi/Islamabad | Updated: Dec 5 2008, 07:12am hrs
Even as sources on Thursday said the government has proof that Pakistans ISI was involved in planning last weeks terror attacks in Mumbai, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Islamabad would take strong action against any Pakistani elements found involved in the attack.

Pakistan is determined to ensure that its territory is not used for any act of terrorism, Zardari said in a statement following his meeting with US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice in Islamabad on Thursday. Zardari told Rice he had asked India to see this as a chance to work together rather than be at odds, saying: I intend to do everything in my power.

New Delhi did not immediately respond to Zardaris statement. However, sources in the Capital said that the names of trainers and places where meticulous training took place of the terrorists that killed 183 people during a 60-hour siege of the countrys financial capital are known to the government. The US is believed to have even more evidence, some of which it has shared with India, the sources said.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen, who was in New Delhi on Thursday, is believed to have told his Pakistani counterparts a day earlier that Washington had enough evidence to show a Pakistani hand in the attack, the sources added. They also said it was hard to believe that the Pakistani army did not have knowledge of the Mumbai operation given that it controls the ISI.

The US stepped up pressure on Pakistan by contending that it would have to accept the responsibility of dealing with anyone using its territory for attacks, even if they were non-state actors. The US secretary of state said Pakistan must provide robust and effective cooperation to India in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes to justice.

Before meeting Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the leaders of Pakistans eight-month-old civilian government, Rice met army chief Ashfaq Kayani in Rawalpindi.

We talked at length about the importance of Pakistan taking responsibility to deal with those who may use Pakistan territory, even if they are non-state actors, she said at a press conference in Islamabad after her meetings with the Pakistani leadership.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force said it is prepared to counter a 9/11-type aerial terror attack on targets in India. We are prepared as usual, Fali Homi Major, the air force chief, told reporters after laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate on the occasion of Navy Day. He said the issue was discussed during a meeting of the three service chiefs with defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday.

After receiving intelligence reports about possible aerial strikes by terrorists on the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, airports throughout the country were placed on high alert.

Antony warned the armed forces about the possibility of terror attacks from airborne platforms, similar to the 9/11 attacks in the US.