While denying that Inter-Services Intelligence had a hand in the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, admitted to his Indian counterpart M.K. Narayanan that Pakistan had contacts with “bad guys” and “one of them” could have carried out the attack.
Four Indians, including two senior officials at the Indian Embassy, were among the 58 people killed in the suicide bombing on July 7, 2008. India accused the ISI of being behind the attack.
“Inter-Services Intelligence didn't do it,” the Pakistan NSA told Mr. Narayanan at a meeting in New Delhi on October 13, 2008. He denied Pakistan was directly responsible for the bombing.
But, Mr Durrani said, “We have some contacts with bad guys and perhaps one of them did it,” according to a U.S. diplomatic cable dated October 28, 2008 (175543: secret) from Islamabad, sent under the name of Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.
The cable is a report of a meeting between the Pakistani official and U.S. Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher, at which Mr. Durrani candidly recounted his meeting with Mr. Narayanan.
The Indian NSA, as Mr. Durrani told the U.S. official, admitted he had been carried away and was a “little harsh with us.”
A retired Lieutenant-General and a former Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Durrani was often viewed in Pakistan as “pro-India.” He was forced to resign as the NSA in the aftermath of the attacks for being the first to admit that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in Indian custody, was a Pakistani.
In his meeting with Mr. Boucher, the Pakistan official described his October 13, 2008 meeting with Mr. Narayanan, just weeks before the Mumbai terrorist attack, as “unusually good” and said he was received “as a friend with open arms.”
Still, as the Pakistan NSA detailed to Mr. Boucher, the Indians had “lots of complaints” about 39 alleged violations of the Line of Control that year.
“The Indian Foreign Secretary [Shivshankar Menon] told Durrani bluntly, said Durrani, that the Indian view was that after [former Pakistan President Pervez] Musharraf lost control, the Pakistani Army went back to its old ways. Durrani pointed out that Musharraf had blocked ‘launch efforts' in Kashmir but said that perhaps one specific battalion on the border was a source of trouble. Pakistan had recommended that the two Directors General of Military Operations meet more regularly; the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had rejected that idea because of objection from their military,” the cable reported.
Mr. Boucher told him it was in Pakistan's interest to stay “as clean as possible” on Kashmir so the Indians could not use Line of Control violations as an excuse to avoid dealing with growing problems.
Mr. Durrani, who also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the visit, seemed to have been receptive, even if not entirely convinced, about the Indian side of the story on charges that it was meddling in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province and using Afghanistan as a launchpad to destablise Pakistan.
“Durrani said, despite the facts, he took at face value the Indian Prime Minister's claim that ‘150%' they were not involved in creating instability in Balochistan,” the cable said of the conversation between Mr. Durrani and Mr. Boucher.
He told the U.S. official that for the first time, the Indian National Security Council had given him a briefing on what India was doing in Afghanistan. “The briefing was elaborate and covered the details of ongoing development work; the Indians noted that they were suffering a casualty every one and half kilometers in this effort.”
Giving Mr. Boucher details of other aspects of the India-Pakistan relationship from his Delhi visit, Mr. Durrani said the two sides were ready for an agreement on Sir Creek, and the “contours” had already been worked out with the Pakistan military.
But the Siachen issue was different: “According to Durrani, however, the Indian Army was opposed to making progress on the Siachen Glacier; he was told by the Indians to ‘forget it,' so perhaps progress was only possible on Siachen within a more comprehensive framework.”
The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan.