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Evidence against ISI ‘not clinching’: India

October 23, 2006

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NEW DELHI, Oct 22: India has good but not clinching evidence against Pakistan’s spy agency for its role in the July serial bombings in Mumbai which killed 186 people, a top security official said on Sunday.

Indian police last month blamed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba for the seven bombs which ripped through commuter trains and platforms in the western commercial hub.

Both Pakistan and Lashkar have denied any involvement.

India’s National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said while the evidence was as good “as we can possibly get in terrorist cases”, it could not be called clinching.

“We have connectivity, linkages, confessions. We have a number of arrests which are pretty good,” the official told the CNN-IBN television news channel in an interview which was to be broadcast later in the day.

“But there are pieces of the puzzle which are not available. I would hesitate to say we have clinching evidence, but we have pretty good evidence,” he said, according to excerpts of the interview released by the channel.

Mr Narayanan said the evidence would most likely be presented to Pakistan during the mid-November talks between the foreign secretaries of the nuclear-armed rivals.

The foreign secretaries are meeting in a bid to revive a peace process which was put on hold by New Delhi after the blasts.

On a decision taken last month by the two countries to set up a joint agency to tackle terrorism, Mr Narayanan said India would use it to put Pakistan “on the spot” by giving it “definite proof” of its involvement in any attacks in India.

“We hope to be able to give them specific locations, specific names, specific telephones. If Pakistan delivers on some, even if not all, then at least we’ll feel the mechanism is reasonably successful ...”

“If every time we give them information we get a negative answer then we know the mechanism is not working and we have to see what we do. But the first thing we want to do is to put Pakistan on guard, on the spot, by saying this is the evidence, this is the information (now) come back to us with what you will do.”

He warned that if in every case, Pakistan denied its role, it would be clear that the joint mechanism was not working.

“... and we can also tell Pakistan and the rest of the world there is no point in talking to them. They don’t understand the language ... once we feel the mechanism is not working we will call it off.”—Reuters