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Government to defend ISI chief in US lawsuits

December 30, 2010

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already said that Pasha cannot be made to testify in the New York civil lawsuits.. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said Thursday it would fight a US lawsuit implicating its top spy in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, pledging to defend past and present chiefs of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

“The government of Pakistan has taken a firm decision to strongly contest the suit filed against the ISI, its present and past directors general,” the foreign ministry said.

“The government of Pakistan and its embassy in Washington shall defend the legal suit on behalf of ISI and its directors general fully and properly.”

A New York court has reportedly asked ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, head of UN-blacklisted group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, to appear next month in connection with the attacks.

An American wounded when 10 gunmen went on the rampage in Mumbai, and relatives of four who died have named Pasha and Saeed as complicit for nurturing the Lashkar-e-Taiba group blamed for the attacks.

Last week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the ISI chief would not be forced to appear in a US court in connection with the attacks, which India and the United States blamed on Pakistani militants.

The three-day shooting rampage left 166 people dead. The only surviving gunman, Pakistan's Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was sentenced to death in May.

Experts say such cases rarely succeed beyond being symbolic. Many international defendants claim immunity or don't bother to respond.