No War. Enemy Is Terror, Not India: ISI Chief

No War. Enemy Is Terror, Not India: ISI Chief
Ruling out a war with India over the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief has said terrorism, not India was the country's prime enemy.

Lt-Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha also said that Pakistan had initially feared an attack from India as a reprisal to the Mumbai attacks.

"We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds. We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India," the ISI-chief told German magazine 'Der Spiegel' in a rare interview.

But he said that as the Mumbai attacks unfolded, Pakistan had prepared for a "military reaction" after the Mumbai tragedy.

"At first we thought there would be a military reaction ... As the Indians, after the attacks, were deeply offended and furious, but they are also clever," Pasha said.

India had recently said Pakistan's state agencies had a hand in the Mumbai terror strikes, which Islamabad is denying.

The ISI, often labelled as a 'state within a state', has also been accused of links with radical groups but its chief claimed that his powerful agency was under the control of the recently elected democratic government.

Pasha told the magazine that "there will be no war".

"We are distancing ourselves from conflict with India, both now and in general," he said.

For the first time, the ISI chief in the interview said he was willing to travel to New Delhi after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accepted a request by his Indian counterpart following the Nov 26 attacks.

But the general, without revealing the reasons for not doing so, remarked: "Many people here are simply not ready".
ISI is widely believed to have set up Lashkar-e-Taiba which New Delhi says masterminded the Mumbai carnage that left over 180 people, including several foreigners dead and has handed over crucial evidence in the shape of taped conversation between the attackers and their handlers based in Pakistan.

But toeing Islamabad's official line, the general said India had failed to provide evidence to back their claims that ISI-sponsored Pakistani groups were behind the attacks.

"They have given us nothing, no numbers, no connections, no names. This is regrettable," he said.

Seeking to allay Western fears, Pasha claimed Pakistan was focussed on fighting terrorism and not fomenting it.

"We know, full well that terror is our enemy, not India," he said.

Pasha said he and the army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani supported the current government which assumed power after eight years of military rule.

"It is completely clear to the army chief and me that this government must succeed. Otherwise we will have a lot of problems in this country," he said.

"The result would be problems in the West and the East, political destabilisation and trouble with America. Anyone who does not support this democratic government today simply does not understand the current situation," he added.

On who controlled the agency, the general said he reported to the President and took orders from him.

Lt-Gen Pasha also rubbished reports of a meeting Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, had with US military officials on board the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, in August.
The western media were rife with speculations that the two sides had reached a tacit understanding that Pakistan would allow the US military to carry out drone attacks in the tribal area.

"We never discussed that, nor did we agree to it," the general said.

"But to be honest, what can we do against the drone attacks? Should we fight the Americans or attack an Afghan post because that's where the drones are coming from? Can we win this? Does it benefit Pakistan?"

Pasha also told the magazine that he was unwilling to crack down on the Taliban leadership. "Shouldn't they be allowed to think and say what they please? They believe that jihad is their obligation. Isn't that freedom of opinion?" he asked.

Next Story : 4.3 Lakh Birds Culled in Assam: Minister
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store
Online Casino Betway Banner