NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Britain’s foreign minister said on Tuesday he believed the Pakistan state did not direct the Mumbai attacks, contradicting accusations from the Indian government that state agencies were involved.
“I have said publicly that I do not believe that the attacks were directed by the Pakistani state and I think it’s important to restate that,” David Miliband told a news conference.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last week the Mumbai attacks must have had support from some of Pakistan’s official agencies. Islamabad has denied this, blaming the raid on “non-state actors.”
India has provided Pakistan data from satellite phones used by the attackers and what it describes as the confession of a surviving gunman, part of a dossier of what it calls evidence.
Miliband’s statement highlighted differences between India and some Western allies. While India believes that agencies like Pakistan’s military spy agency were involved, diplomats have hinted there is not enough evidence to show this.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani reiterated his government’s offer of a joint investigation with India but said the dossier India had sent did not amount to evidence.
“All that has been received formally from India is some information,” Gilani told the National Assembly.
“I say ‘information’ because these are not evidence. This needs to be carefully examined,” he said. “Serious, sustained and pragmatic cooperation is the way forward.”
India has become increasingly frustrated with what it sees as Pakistan’s failure to take strong action against those it blames for November’s Mumbai attacks, in which 179 people were killed.
The attacks revived tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors who have fought three wars since 1947.
Gilani said the Interior Ministry was examining the information and its findings would be shared with India in “due course of time.”
Analysts said India’s accusations of involvement by Pakistani state elements and Pakistan’s slow response to the Indian dossier illustrated the deep mistrust between the old rivals.
Miliband said it was clear the attacks originated from Pakistan and it had to crack down on militants operating on its soil, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which has been blamed for the Mumbai attacks.
“What is relevant is the approach of the Pakistani state to the LeT organization and the way the Pakistani state takes on the menace of the LeT organization,” he said.
Miliband praised India for the “maturity” and “wisdom” of its response to the attacks, referring to its decision to respond diplomatically rather than militarily.
After the assault, Pakistan raided militant organizations and detained some Islamist leaders. But the action did not satisfy India, which said such detentions amounted to little.
Miliband too said Pakistan needed to do more.
“You know there is a history of people being arrested and then not being prosecuted or brought to justice,” he said, adding Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was sincere about tackling militancy and needed the Pakistani state machinery’s support.
Miliband warned that Pakistan faced its modern threat from within its borders and it needed to tackle the roots of militant organizations such as the LeT.
Several other foreign officials including U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden have visited the region since the assault on India’s financial hub in an effort to defuse tension.
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Muqrin Bin Abdul Aziz held talks in Islamabad on Tuesday with Gilani and other Pakistani leaders.
Gilani reiterated that Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used by anyone against any country, his office said.
(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad)
Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Dean Yates