New Delhi: Pakistan’s National Security Council (NSC) on Monday rejected reported remarks by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif criticising the country’s handling of militant groups responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The rejection of Sharif’s remarks came at a meeting of Pakistan’s top civil-military body presided over by his successor Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
The NSC meet was called to discuss the remarks about the 2008 Mumbai attacks made by Sharif in an interview in which he acknowledged that militant organisations are active in Pakistan and questioned the policy to allow “non-state actors" to cross the border and “kill" people in Mumbai, a PTI report said.
The former prime minister also reportedly said that Pakistan has isolated itself, the report said.
“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?" Sharif is reported to have asked the Dawn newspaper, referring to the Mumbai attacks-related trial proceedings that have stalled in the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
India’s foreign ministry is yet to respond but defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman described Sharif’s comments as a “serious disclosure".
“Hasn’t India been following it? Saying that we strongly believe that the handlers of the 26/11 offences were in Pakistan? This only proves India’s stand has been right all through the way," Sitharaman said. India has maintained that the deadly attack in Mumbai was masterminded by Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed—a man who is allowed a free run in Pakistan. The operation, India said, was masterminded by Pakistan intelligence agency ISI.
Sharif’s political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz later said in a statement that his remarks were misinterpreted.
The NSC meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of the Mumbai attacks and unanimously termed the remarks as incorrect and misleading, said a statement issued after the meeting, according to the PTI report.
“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 NSC statement said, according to the Dawn newspaper.
The statement also blamed India for the delays in Pakistan proceeding with the Mumbai attacks trial.
“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," the Pakistan NSC statement said.
The NSC meeting was attended by defence and foreign minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, finance minister Miftah Ismail, foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, national security adviser (NSA) Lt General (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman Gen Zubair Hayat, the directors general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence, and the three services chiefs.