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Pakistan dismisses media reports on Headley

June 10, 2010 19:13 IST

Pakistan dismissed reports that Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley had linked serving Pakistani army officers to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, saying they were based on "misguided leaks" aimed at maligning the country.

Asked about Indian media reports that Headley had named three Pakistan Army officers who collaborated with the terrorists responsible for the attacks, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said they were based on "self-serving and misguided leaks which are meant only to malign our security agencies and Pakistan".

"These reports are not worth our comments," Basit told a weekly news briefing at the Foreign Office. Headley, who has confessed to plotting the deadly 26/11 attacks, is being questioned by a team of Indian investigators in the US.

Basit said it was "important (and) high time" that India dispensed with its "historical bias against Pakistan so that our two countries can make a new beginning in South Asia with a view to promoting peace and prosperity in our region".

The reports had said that Headley had told Indian investigators who questioned him that three majors of the Pakistan Army had collaborated with the terrorists who carried out the attack.

Headley also purportedly said that members of the Lashker-e-Taiba carried out the attacks under the "guidance" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Basit also parried a question about US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake's remarks that the US administration had sought assurances from Pakistan that weapons provided by America would not be used against India.

"He (Blake) has said what he had to say and I have nothing to add to what he has said," Basit said. The spokesman remarked that the trust deficit between Pakistan and India was "not a new phenomenon" and has been there "for decades because of several reasons". Basit said: "We believe that in order to move forward meaningfully with a view to bridging this trust deficit, it is important that as agreed by the two Prime Ministers in Thimphu that the two sides discuss all the issues which continue to bedevil our relations."

Pakistan intended to discuss all these outstanding issues when the Foreign Ministers of the two countries meet in Islamabad on July 15, Basit said. Basit indicated that the two sides had begun preparing the grounds for the upcoming meeting between the Foreign Ministers and a meeting between Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram on the sidelines of a SAARC conference in Islamabad on June 26.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik had yesterday called on Chidambaram to discuss the forthcoming meeting of the interior ministers. "Overall, I think both our countries agree that we need to move forward in a sustained manner so that the engagement process is not disrupted again," Basit said. "There is also a realisation that it is important that we take meaningful steps forward so that the trust deficit between our two countries can be bridged," he added.

In response to a question on the possible inclusion of India as a permanent member of an expanded UN Security Council, Basit said Pakistan wants reforms of the world body to make it democratic, representative and transparent. "We do not really support the expansion in the permanent category of the Security Council. We are working within the framework of the UN for consensus with other like-minded countries and we have put on the table our proposals," he said.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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