New Delhi: India’s foreign minister on Sunday accused Pakistan of leaking a story that someone pretending to be him had called and threatened Pakistan’s president two days after the Mumbai attacks.
New Delhi has blamed the attacks, in which 171 were killed across India’s financial capital, on Pakistani militants, which has imperiled improving ties between the long-time south Asian nuclear rivals.
On Saturday, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that Pakistan had put its forces on high alert after a hoax caller was connected to Zardari on 28 November.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement that the last and only time he spoke to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was in May.
“It is, however, worrying that a neighbouring state might even consider acting on the basis of such a hoax call, try to give it credibility with other states, and confuse the public by releasing the story in part,” he said.
Officials from “third countries” called to inform Mukherjee of the hoax call, he said.
He did not name those officials, but Dawn said it was US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was in both capitals this week to ease tensions.
Mumbai police have said the gunmen were controlled by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group blamed for earlier attacks in India including a 2001 assault on India’s parliament that nearly sparked a fourth war between India and Pakistan.
LeT is on US and Indian terrorist lists and Indian police say two of its operations leaders, who were designated terrorists by Washington in May, coordinated the Mumbai rampage.
New Delhi has demanded Islamabad take swift action over what it says is the latest militant attack launched against India from Pakistani soil.
The latest arrests come amid public anger at intelligence failures in preventing the attacks, which have been capitalised on by India’s main opposition party in the lead-up to elections due by May.
India’s newly appointed home minister on Friday admitted there had been security lapses.