New Delhi, July 20 (Calcutta Tube) Without naming Pakistan, India Tuesday said the interrogation of Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, who helped Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) plot the 26/11 attack, has revealed clear and growing links between ‘militants and official establishments’.
Days after the India-Pakistan foreign minister-level talks deadlocked on the issue of terror, National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon said the nexus had left no room for India to be optimistic as the link was growing ‘stronger’.
‘It has been brought to us through Headley that there are clear links between militants and official establishments,’ Menon said at a conference on terrorism here.
‘It is that nexus with existing intelligence agencies that makes it a much harder phenomenon for us to deal with and suggest it won’t be broken soon,’ Menon stressed.
He pointed out that the information that Indian investigating agencies have and deal with suggest that the link ‘is getting stronger’.
The interrogation of Headley proved ‘our worst fears have come true and the situation is as bad as we thought’, Menon said in his brief speech at the conference on ‘Countering terrorism in South Asia: Perspective from US and India’ organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Heritage Foundation, a US-based think tank.
Headley, who is in a Chicago jail, was interrogated by Indian investigators, including sleuths from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), last month and disclosed the involvement of not just LeT operatives but the involvement of some serving and retired officers of the Pakistan military and the ISI in the Mumbai carnage.
Menon also pointed to an increasing incestuous link between terror groups operating in the region. Stating that ‘there is less possibility of being optimistic’, the NSA said the traditional definition of terror groups in South Asia has become obsolete in the wake of these outfits merging to conduct operations.
‘The other aspect that is coming from it is how over times in the last few years these terror groups in South Asia have got fused, they are training together, using the same communication,’ Menon said.
‘The traditional distinction of these terror groups has become meaningless,’ he said, referring to Pakistan’s ‘good’ Taliban and ‘bad’ Taliban theory.
Menon’s remarks on the alleged involvement of official agencies in the Mumbai carnage comes days after the foreign-minister talks between India and Pakistan broke down on the issue of New Delhi prioritising terror on top of the bilateral agenda. It indicates that New Delhi is hardening its posture on cross-border terror.
On the eve of the talks in Islamabad last week, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai had said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had a ‘much more significant role’ to play in the Mumbai mayhem and that the Pakistani spy agency was ‘literally controlling and coordinating the attacks from the beginning till the end’.
At a joint press conference in Islamabad July 15 with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi took strong offence to Pillai’s remarks, saying such statements were not helpful in building an atmosphere of trust between the two countries.
Two days after the talks, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao defended Pillai’s comments on the ISI, saying he was ‘perfectly within his rights’ to draw attention to it and asked Pakistan to introspect on involvement of state and non-state actors in terror unleashed against India.
In an interview, Rao also spoke about ‘very credible evidence on the involvement of Pakistani agencies, Pakistani nationals in the Mumbai attacks’.