Pakistan has done more than any other nation in the global war against terrorism, former President Pervez Musharraf said, in defense of his country’s response to the attacks in Mumbai.
“Pakistan has lost a large number of security personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism,” Musharraf said today in a televised interview from Islamabad. “The world community, including India and Pakistan, must fight the root of extremism and terrorism.”
By Farhan Sharif
Ties between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the Nov. 26-29 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 164 people dead. India and the U.S. have pressed for a thorough investigation of the attacks, and the government in Islamabad has confirmed that the surviving gunman is a Pakistani national.
Indian authorities say Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the assault in Mumbai, told interrogators the attacks were planned and carried out by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Until three days ago, Pakistan said there was no proof its nationals were involved.
Musharraf, an army general who seized power in a 1999 coup, turned Pakistan into an ally of the U.S. in its war against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. He quit as president in August to avoid impeachment by a civilian coalition government elected in February.
The Mumbai attacks interrupted the five-year peace process between the two South Asian nations, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.
“I regret that all the developments on both sides for dialogue, peace and coordination built in the past over many years were washed out by one terror incident, which the people of both sides condemn,” Musharraf said, referring to the mounting tension between the two neighbors.
Pakistan has rejected Indian allegations the attackers received the support of official agencies in Pakistan and said such accusations could raise tensions. India is examining all options to stop border infiltration and prevent terrorist attacks, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said on Jan. 7.
“Pakistan’s forces and people have all the ability to defend the country,” Musharraf said.