The Pakistan government held a meeting of its National Security Committee (NSC) on Monday following its former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif finally admitting that his country had sent terrorists to India to carry out the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. At the meeting, the Pak NSC unanimously held Sharif's statement as 'incorrect and misleading'.
The meeting, chaired by Sharif's successor as PM, Shahid Abbasi, was attended by the seniormost members of Pakistan's government and the military. In fact, the Pak Prime Minister, Foreign and Defence Minister, and Finance Minister were outnumbered by the country's military chiefs and the chief of the ISI.
The official release after the meeting states:
"The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks, as it appeared in the Daily Dawn of 12th May 2018, and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading. The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities.
The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.
The meeting recalled that it was not Pakistan, but India that has delayed the finalisation of the case. Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Qasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalisation of the trial.
At the same time Pakistan continues to wait for cooperation from India on the infamous Kulbhushan Jadhav and Samjhota Express episodes.
The National Security Committee resolved that Pakistan shall continue to play its due role in fighting the war against terrorism at all fronts."
The original Dawn paragraph carrying Sharif's statement reads as follows:
“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?” — a reference to the Mumbai attacks-related trials which have stalled in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
The admission appeared to have sent Pakistani politicians and military leaders scurrying for cover. Reports had claimed that Sharif was under pressure from his ruling PML-N (where the N stands for Nawaz) as well as the politically powerful Pakistani army to retract his statement or issue a clarification. However, Nawaz Sharif appears to have stood his ground, also adding that the Pakistan Army and the ISI knew about the 26/11 attacks.
Speaking to journalists at a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, Sharif, who was ousted from the office of Pak PM in 2017 after being held 'dishonest' in the Panama Papers case and subsequently disqualified from holding public office for life, said:
"What is wrong with the statement I made? I asked why did the terrorists go across to kill 150 people? I need an answer to this. In the past this reality has been admitted by General Parvez Musharraf, General Durrani and General Pasha as well. Rehman Malik has also admitted the same. He said that from the place where non-state actors went, why can't their trial be completed in time? Why couldn't the Mumbai trial be completed? This is the reason why nobody is ready to listen to Pakistan's narrative. I faced the terrorists by eye-for-eye policy. In the war against terrorism, our soldiers and citizens gave immense sacrifices. The person who made Pakistan a nuclear state is now being called a traitor. I always speak the truth."
The Pakistani Army is said to be 'extremely upset' with its former PM and worried that "this will give more weight to India's narrative that Pakistan is not doing enough" to rein in terrorist modules operating from its soil, and particularly from areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Leader of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Khurrum Gandapur on Monday submitted a plea urging filing of a treason case against Nawaz Sharif in the Lahore High Court (LHC). The petition accused Sharif of maligning Pakistan and its national security departments.
On November 26, 2008, 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists had sailed into Mumbai from Karachi and carried out coordinated attacks in different parts of the city, killing about 166 people and injuring over 600 others.
While Ajmal Kasab, the LeT terrorist who was captured by India during the attack, has faced capital punishment and David Headley, the agent who conducted reconnaissance, is lodged in a US jail with a 35-year sentence after pleading guilty to his role in the attack, attack plotters Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi either roam free or are placed under sham 'house arrests' when it appears that there's global pressure to act.
The global crackdown on Pakistani terror has steadily intensified with the global money laundering watchdog FATF placing Pakistan on its terror funding watchlist and the US and its president Donald Trump increasing their clamp-down.
General Elections are due in Pakistan in the next few months.