Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has allegedly admitted that Pakistani terrorists carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, known as 26/11, and suggests that such terror strikes could have been prevented. Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper published this interview on Saturday. He also pointed to a direction which implied that his country should look into why its narrative that it has always had been fighting and trying to eliminate terrorism had not been accepted by the international community “despite sacrifices”.
India has staunchly and longly accused Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba of carrying out the attacks in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008, that left 166 people dead and many injured after 10 terrorists with backpacks, automatic weapons and grenades launched a three-day siege on India’s financial capital targeting multiple locations.
In his print interview, Sharif directly did not name Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Jaish-e-Mohammad that operate in the country with impunity or the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which according to India, sailed into Mumbai from Karachi, to carry out the attacks in an operation that was coordinated by Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI.
Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court for not being “honest and righteous” as he failed to declare in 2013 a salary he got from the company of his son in the UAE. This year in February, the top court also disqualified him as the head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and he has been banned from politics for lifetime.
Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s apparently conciliatory remark on the state’s role in terrorism, however, is unlikely to indicate a concrete shift in Islamabad’s position. Just months before Hafiz Saeed was released from detention, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had launched a sharp attack on India, over what he had described as, “brutally suppressing” people in Jammu and Kashmir. In March again, Pakistan had attempted to drag in the Kashmir issue at the United Nations again and was pummeled by New Delhi that underlined India was still waiting for “credible action” to bring all those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice.
It is quiet notorious of Nawaz Sharif to now, open up about the possibility of attacks and his suggestion of “Prevention” of these attacks. Why has the disqualified PM now realized the inevitable? Corruption runs in the very veins of the South Asian country and most Pakistani politicians, including late PM Benazir Bhutto, have been linked with high-profile graft scandals. That, however, could never impede their ascent to power.
While corruption in Pakistan is reaching all time highs and should definitely be looked into, the main issue in the country right now is a clash of institutions, with the powerful military and judiciary allegedly trying to undermine the supremacy of parliament.
Sharif, who was closely linked to the military establishment until he was ousted in a military coup in 1999 and later sent into exile by former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, was trying to be more assertive with the military and judiciary after he won the 2013 general elections. He was also seeking to forge closer ties with his country’s arch-rival India — something the army generals strongly oppose.