CONFESSION, TAPE HEAT ON PAK

Confession, tape heat on Pak
TELEGRAPH BUREAU AND AGENCIES

Dec. 31: Pakistan’s President and Prime Minister have sent New Year greetings to their Indian counterparts but Delhi’s eyes were peeled today on three other despatches that originated from Islamabad.
• One, a Lashkar-e-Toiba leader, Zarar Shah, has confessed to Pakistani interrogators the group’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press reported, quoting officials.
• Two, the US has handed Islamabad the taped conversation that another Lashkar leader, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, had with the terrorists in Mumbai, according to the Dawn newspaper of Pakistan.
• Three, an FBI team that visited Faridkot in Pakistan apparently could not find evidence linking Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist captured alive, to the country, according to Geo TV.
The roller-coaster reports — the first two add to the pressure on Pakistan to hand over some suspects to India, while the third backs its contention in the face of growing suggestions till now that Kasab is a Pakistani — came as Asif Ali Zardari and Yousaf Raza Gilani wished Pratibha Patil and Manmohan Singh well in New Year messages routed through the external affairs ministry.
The Dawn newspaper reported that the US was pressuring Pakistan to hand over Lakhvi, the Lashkar operations chief thought to be the attack mastermind, to India. The daily quoted diplomatic sources in Washington as saying American audio experts had checked the Lakhvi tape and found it genuine.
The Dawn said that until this week, US officials had not taken a clear stand on India’s demand for Lakhvi’s custody but that the tape seemed to have changed their mind. Pakistan dismissed the report as “completely speculative”.
But another flank was opened when the Journal reported that Pakistan’s own investigation had begun to show substantive links between the 10 gunmen and the Lashkar.
The security official quoted by the Journal said of Zarar: “He is singing.” Later, the AP news agency despatched an almost identical report, quoting a senior Pakistani government official.
Zarar’s admission, the official said, is backed up by US intercepts of a phone call between Zarar and an attacker at the Taj hotel.
Bush calls
President George W. Bush today spoke to Manmohan Singh and Zardari, and the three agreed to avoid any action that would “raise tensions”, the White House said.
Asked if Bush had spoken about the extradition of Zarar, the White House spokesperson said: “I’m not going to get into details. I don’t recall that specific issue coming up — specific element coming up.”

Courtesy: The Telegraph, Calcutta(Kolkata)
Dt. The 1st.January,2009.

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