A meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, held on Monday to discuss the fallout of an interview given by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif regarding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, unanimously declared his statements “incorrect and misleading.”
A press release issued by the country’s leading civil-military body said the interview’s claims, which appeared in the daily Dawn on May 12, were not borne out by facts. “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. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.”
In the interview, Sharif had appeared to admit state endorsement for militant organizations based in Pakistan. “Militant organizations are active. 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?” he said. “We have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it,” he added.
Since the publication of the interview, Indian media has declared his statements a “confession” of Pakistan’s role in the Mumbai attacks, which left 166 people dead, and demanded swift response from New Delhi. Additionally, Sharif’s statement has been slammed by his PMLN’s major opponents, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who have claimed he is merely parroting the narrative put forward by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the press release, the participants of the meeting held that the delay in the Mumbai attacks trial was due to India’s refusal to cooperate, not Pakistan. “Besides many other refusals during the investigation, the denial of access to the principal accused, Ajmal Kasab, and his extraordinarily hurried execution became the core impediment in the finalization of the trial,” it said, adding that Islamabad is still awaiting New Delhi’s cooperation in the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav from Balochistan. “The National Security Committee resolved that Pakistan shall continue to play its due role in fighting the war against terrorism at all fronts,” it added.
Presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the meeting was attended by Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah, Defense and Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Zubair Hayat, the director-generals of Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and the three services chiefs.
The meeting had been announced by the military’s media wing via Twitter on Sunday evening. “[The] NSC meeting suggested to [the] prime minister to discuss recent misleading media statement regarding Bombay incident. Being held tomorrow morning,” said ISPR Director-General Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor on the microblogging site.
Despite the controversy provoked by his words, including an attempt by the PMLN to frame it as a case of misreporting, Sharif has refused to budge from his initial statement. Meeting reporters on Monday prior to the meeting’s conclusion, he said he had said nothing wrong in the interview. “Will speak the truth come what may,” added the former prime minister.