Islamabad: Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership today condemned the “fallacious” statement by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif about the Mumbai terror attack and termed it as “incorrect and misleading”.
Sharif, for the first time, questioned Pakistan’s policy to allow the “non-state actors” to cross the border and “kill” people in Mumbai as he publicly acknowledged in an interview that militant groups are active in the country.
His comments stirred a controversy, prompting the National Security Committee (NSC) – Pakistan’s top civil-military body – to call a high-level meeting.
“The meeting reviewed the recent statement in the context of Mumbai attacks…and unanimously termed this statement as incorrect and misleading,” said a statement issued after the NSC meeting held at Prime Minister’s House.
“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,” it said.
The statement said that it was recalled during the meeting that the delay in conclusion of the Mumbai attack case was caused by India, not Pakistan.
“Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Kasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalisation of the trial,” it did.
Ten Lashkar-e-Taiba militants killed 166 people and wounded dozens in Mumbai in November, 2008. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught. Kasab was executed after a court found him guilty and handed down death sentence.
After the NSC meeting, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met Sharif and conveyed to him the concerns of the military leadership over his remarks regarding the Mumbai attacks, the DawnNewsTV reported citing its sources.
During the meeting that lasted nearly 30 minutes, Sharif reiterated his stance and questioned if anyone could explain what was wrong with his comments. He wondered why a brouhaha was being created over his remarks when similar admissions have been made in the past by others, sources said.
Pakistan continues to await cooperation from India regarding the arrest of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and the Samjhauta Express attack, the statement said.
“The National Security Committee resolved that Pakistan shall continue to play its due role in fighting the war against terrorism at all fronts,” it added.
Earlier today, Sharif dispelled the notion that the comments were falsely attributed to him, saying that he will speak the truth come what may.
“Former president Pervez Musharraf, former interior minister Rehman Malik and former National Security Adviser Major-General (retd) Mehmood Durrani had already confirmed (what I said),” he added.
He also called out those local media outlets that had criticised his words.
“I am being called a traitor on the media – they [the media] are being made to call me a traitor.”
“Are those who tore apart the country and the Constitution patriots? Are those who pulled out judges from their offices patriots?”
“Will speak the truth no matter what the consequences are,” he said.
When a reporter pointed to Sharif’s acknowledgment of the presence of “non-state actors” in the country, his daughter Maryam, who was accompanying him, replied: “So then who was Zarb-i-Azb [military operation] conducted against?”
Operation Zarb-e-Azb was a joint military offensive conducted by the Pakistan Armed Forces against various militant group in 2014.
According to Dawn newspaper, differences within the ruling party surfaced following the issuance of contradictory statements by the Sharif brothers on the issue.
Sharif’s response today on the controversy is contradictory to the stance taken by his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, whose president Shehbaz Sharif said yesterday that the party “rejects all claims made in the report, be they direct or indirect”.
Presided over by Prime Minister Abbasi, the NSC meeting was attended by Defence and Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, National Security Adviser Retired Lt General Nasser Khan Janjua, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Zubair Hayat, the director generals of Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and the three services chiefs. PTI