NEW DELHI (AFP) – India has accused Pakistani intelligence services of overseeing the 2008 militant attacks on Mumbai, a report said Wednesday ahead of a major meeting between the rival nations.
Home Secretary G. K. Pillai told the Indian Express newspaper that the level of involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had become clear through recent questioning of David Headley, a suspect under arrest in the United States.
“The real sense that has come out from Headley’s interrogation is that the ISI has had a much more significant role to play (than was earlier thought),” Pillai said.
“It was not just a peripheral role. They (the ISI) were literally controlling and coordinating it from the beginning till the end,” he said.
Headley, the US-born son of a former Pakistani diplomat and an American woman, was arrested in Chicago last year and has pleaded guilty to scouting the hotels and other sites in Mumbai that were targetted by the militants.
Pakistan has put the alleged masterminds of the bloody attacks, in which 166 people died, on trial but has always strenuously denied that its intelligence services were involved.
The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India will hold talks on Thursday in Islamabad aimed at building trust and resuming peace talks.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna are likely to discuss the peace process, which Delhi halted after blaming the Mumbai attacks on Pakistani-based militants.
During the attacks, 10 Islamist gunmen went on a 60-hour rampage in India’s financial capital. The one surviving gunman has been sentenced to death by a Mumbai court.
New Delhi and Washington accuse the outlawed Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba of being responsible.
A Pakistani court has charged seven people in connection with the attacks, including alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, but the process has moved slowly amid requests for further evidence from the Indian authorities.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had previously gone on record as saying that the Mumbai attacks had the support of “some official agencies” in Pakistan.