Pakistan rejects charge of state role in Mumbai attacks
NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
In this Nov. 29, 2008 file photo, an Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel burns during a gun battle between Indian military and militants inside the hotel in Mumbai, India. AP photo
Pakistan rejected Thursday renewed Indian charges that Pakistani "state actors" were involved in planning and coordinating the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.
"I would very strongly reject any insinuation of any involvement of any state agency in acts of terrorism in India," Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told reporters after talks with his Indian counterpart Ranjan Mathai.
The two top civil servants in their respective ministries held two days of talks in New Delhi to bolster a peace dialogue undermined by fresh tensions over the Mumbai attacks and political flux in Pakistan.
India recently arrested Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, suspected of being a key handler for the Mumbai attackers who were members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.
India says Ansari has admitted helping to coordinate the deadly assault from a command post in Karachi, and his testimony has renewed Indian accusations that "state elements" in Pakistan were involved.
"It is no longer possible to deny that though the incident happened in Mumbai, there was a control room in Pakistan before and during the incident," Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday.
"It is clear that state actors were there," Chidambaram said.
Pakistan has indicted seven people for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks but their trial, which began in 2009, has been beset by delays.
Speaking after his talks with Jilani, which focused on ways of reducing mutual distrust between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals, Mathai stressed that bringing those guilty for the Mumbai carnage to justice "would be the biggest confidence-building measure of all".
New Delhi suspended a four-year peace process with Islamabad after the attacks on India's financial capital by 10 Islamist gunmen.
The full peace dialogue only resumed in February last year.
In Thursday's joint-statement, the diplomats said that a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan was now scheduled for September.