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Can’t Confirm or Deny Presence of Terror Organisations in My Country, Says Former Pakistan NSA

Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan’s NSA during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, said it would be presumptuous to claim everything was “clear” in his country.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:February 22, 2019, 4:20 PM IST
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Can’t Confirm or Deny Presence of Terror Organisations in My Country, Says Former Pakistan NSA
File photo of Pakistan’s former NSA Mahmud Ali Durrani.
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New Delhi: Amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan, former Pakistani National Security Advisor Mahmud Ali Durrani has said that he can neither confirm nor deny the presence of terror organisations in Pakistan.

In an interview to News18, Durrani, who was Pakistan’s NSA during the Mumbai attacks in 2008, said that the Pakistani establishment, however, had worked relentlessly to eliminate the terror outfits.

“I cannot confirm or deny the presence of terror organisations in Pakistan, but to say that everything is clear would be a bit presumptuous. I can, however, say that the military, establishment and other law enforcement agencies have worked over the years in cracking down on such elements with considerable success,” he said, adding that the current state of relationship between both countries was bad.

Durrani was reported to have said, in 2017, that the Mumbai attacks had been carried out by a terror group based in Pakistan but that the government or the ISI had no role in it.

He was also critical of India’s assertion that Pakistan had failed to act despite being provided with evidence after the 2016 Pathankot attack. “Making Pathankot an excuse and not providing evidence is counterproductive. I still say, get a third party. If there is so much mistrust among each other, get a third party. Ask them to mediate and sit between us or investigate if there is a linkage. I am convinced this will happen someday, but I hope we don’t go to war before that,” the former Pakistan NSA said.

Looking back at the Mumbai attacks, Durrani said the first set of evidence was provided in Marathi. “Again, I go back to the Mumbai attacks. Although India said it provided evidence, but you talk to the Pakistani investigators, they say no, we didn’t get full evidence. The first set of evidence we got was in Marathi or in some local language, which we didn’t understand. Pakistan says India has done nothing about the Samjhauta blast investigation. And both have valid points,” Durrani added.

While he was hopeful that the two countries would not resort to war, he was critical of the Indian media. “I won’t put it to the extent of going to war, but there is so much hype being created by media in India and your leadership has upped the ante so much that for them to step back and go into a peaceful mood looks difficult,” he added.

Pakistan, on the other hand, he added, had been measured in its response. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said his country will retaliate if India launches military strikes in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. Accusing India of playing judge and jury, Khan said New Delhi had blamed the attack on Islamabad “without any proof”.

After the Pulwama attacks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Pakistan will have to pay a price for the attack and warned that security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate.

“Pakistan has been measured in its statement. It’s a very sad event — killing of so many of your (Indian) soldiers. But, before the tragedy even got over, the finger automatically pointed to Pakistan. I think India needs to look inwards. It’s important to see how happy the Kashmiris are with all the military and the special powers that are accorded to the military in the Valley. Are you managing them well? Do they want to continue to stay with India? India needs to look at that before it looks at Pakistan’s interference,” he elaborated.

He also believed that it was impossible for Pakistan to carry out or support such an attack in the shadow of Saudi crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman’s visit, saying his country would be “totally stupid and devoid of any intelligence” if it were the other way round.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. Like I said, India needs to look inwards and sort out your own house. It will yield far more dividends. I think our PM has offered to cooperate in the investigation into the attack. So when he says Pakistan wants proof, this is in response to people pointing fingers without any solid ground. So when he asks for evidence, it’s only because they want to sort it out. People who have done this are no friends of Pakistan because the aim is to create a war-like situation between the two countries. They are no friends of Pakistan,” he further said.

“As far as the recent attacks are concerned, I still say look inwards. Look who has done it rather than pointing fingers at Pakistan automatically. We need to stop this auto-cycle. We keep blaming each other. We keep killing each other. Bring in a third party, I say. But again, India says no third party. But, do something other than automatically pointing a finger at Pakistan. We have sensible people on both sides and we should work towards peace,” the former top Pakistani security official said.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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