New Delhi: Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared to admit that Pakistani terrorists carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, known as 26/11, and suggest that such terror strikes could have been prevented. In an interview to the Dawn newspaper published on Saturday, Mr Sharif also lamented that Pakistan had isolated itself. He indicated that his country should look into why its narrative that it had been fighting terrorism had not been accepted by the international community "despite sacrifices".
- Ousted Pak PM says Pak terrorists "crossed the border" to attack Mumbai
- Suggests such attacks could have been prevented in interview to Dawn
- Pak has dithered in prosecuting those responsible for the attacks
India has long accused Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba of carrying out the attacks in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008, that left 166 people dead and many injured after 10 terrorists with backpacks, automatic weapons and grenades launched a three-day siege on India's financial capital targeting multiple locations.
Mr Sharif did not name Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar's Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jaish-e-Mohammad that operate in the country with impunity in the interview. Or the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which according to India, sailed into Mumbai from Karachi, to carry out the attacks in an operation that was coordinated by Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI.
"Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can't we complete the trial?" he said, according to the newspaper.
The Mumbai case is being tried in an anti-terrorism court since 2009 but the case isn't going anywhere. Indian officials say Pakistan did not keep its end of the bargain and sent the case to court without really investigating the conspiracy that led to the attacks.
Islamabad, on the other hand, has blamed setbacks during the trial on India, insisting that New Delhi had not given "solid evidence" against Hafiz Saeed and others. When Saeed was ordered to be released after 10 months of house arrest in November last, the Pakistan government had justified the move, saying the law was equal for all.
Mr Sharif, 68, was disqualified by the Supreme Court for not being "honest and righteous" as he failed to declare in 2013 a salary he got from the company of his son in the UAE. In February, the top court also disqualified him as the head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Former PM Nawaz Sharif's apparently conciliatory remark on the state's role in terrorism, however, is unlikely to indicate a concrete shift in Islamabad's position. Just months before Hafiz Saeed was released from detention, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had launched a sharp attack on India, over what he had described as, "brutally suppressing" people in Jammu and Kashmir.
In March again, Pakistan had attempted to drag in the Kashmir issue at the United Nations again and was pummelled by New Delhi that underlined India was still waiting for "credible action" to bring all those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice.