Islamabad: The top civil-military leadership in Pakistan on Monday dismissed ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement on the 2008 Mumbai attacks as “incorrect and misleading”. The National Security Committee (NSC), which reviewed the statement, was chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar.
Defence Minister and acting Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir was also a part of the meeting along with other top civil officials. However, before the meeting, Sharif defended his remarks saying that “he will continue to speak the truth come what may”, Dawn online reported. “What did I say that was wrong in the interview?” he asked. His statement was in contrast to the response by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), whose president Shahbaz Sharif earlier said that his brother’s comments “were “grossly misinterpreted”.
The NSC conducted a detailed review of the statement made by Sharif during an interview last week to Dawn newspaper in which he admitted that “militant organisations were active in Pakistan” and “such terror strikes (26/11) could have been prevented”. The meeting unanimously termed remarks (by Sharif) incorrect and misleading,” said a statement issued after the 22nd NSC meeting at the Prime Minister’s House.
At least 166 Indians and foreigners were killed in the 2008 bloodbath blamed on 10 Pakistani terrorists. One of them, Ajmal Kasab, was caught and hanged. “Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” Sharif had asked in the interview, referring to the Mumbai attacks-related trial proceedings stalled in the Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.
The statement by the Prime Minister Office added: “The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities.” It also stated that India denied Pakistani investigators access to Kasab. It said that “Kasab’s hurried hanging by India impeded the investigation of the case”, adding that “India repeatedly denied assistance in the probe while there was complete cooperation from Pakistan”.
Sharif was slammed for his remarks with opposition parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) calling him a “security threat”.