NEW DELHI — India has accused Pakistan's powerful spy agency of planning and executing the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in the strongest and most specific allegation of Islamabad's involvement in the assault from a top official.
The remark comes a day before the foreign ministers of the rival nations are set to meet in Islamabad to attempt to rebuild a fragile peace dialogue that was shattered by the attacks, which killed 166 people. It appeared to be an attempt to ratchet up the pressure on Pakistan to prosecute people whom India says were deeply involved in the assault.
In an interview published Wednesday, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai accused Pakistan's powerful spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence of playing a key role the attacks.
"It was not just a peripheral role. They (the agency) were literally controlling and coordinating it from the beginning till the end," Pillai told the Indian Express newspaper.
Pillai told the newspaper that new information about the role of the agency had emerged from the interrogation of David Coleman Headley, an American who pleaded guilty in the U.S. in March to being in on the planning of the attacks. He was subsequently questioned by Indian investigators.
Pillai also pointed the finger at Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned Pakistani militant group blamed in the three-day siege of India's financial capital. He now heads a charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, that is alleged to be a front for Lashkar. India wants him to be put on trial.
"The same goes for Hafiz Saeed. He was also not a peripheral player." Pillai said.
Pakistani authorities did not immediately respond to the accusations, but the spy agency has previously denied any involvement in the Mumbai attacks.
As he arrived in Islamabad, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who will meet with Pakistan's foreign minister on Thursday, said he planned to bring up the Headley interrogation.
"I also look forward to receiving feedback on the issues raised by our Home Minister during his visit to Pakistan last month on our core concern of terrorism, particularly in the light of the discussions our Home Minister had in Pakistan in the context of the interrogation of David Coleman Headley."
Pillai was not available to independently confirm the comments.