Cabinet holds crisis talks after Mumbai atrocity

-File photo

Federal Cabinet was on Saturday holding crisis talks to discuss a response to the Mumbai attacks after Islamabad reversed a decision to send the head of military intelligence to India.
The representative of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had been due to fly to Mumbai to help the investigation, amid Indian allegations of Pakistani involvement in the terror attacks that claimed 195 lives.
“The special session of the cabinet will take stock of the situation arising out of the allegations by India and the change in level of ISI participation into the probe,” a government official told AFP.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani rushed to Islamabad from Lahore late on Friday to chair the special cabinet meeting and his foreign minister cut short a visit to India and returned home by special plane.
The meeting comes after an abrupt change of plan by Islamabad, saying it will send only a representative of the ISI to India, and not its head, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
No explanation was given in a short statement issued by the prime minister’s office for the change of plan. The chief was to have gone at the request of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
However, government sources here said the change came after reservations in top military circles over the unprecedented move.
“The military leadership was not consulted before an announcement was made to the media regarding the decision to send the ISI chief to India,” a senior government official said.
Before the government U-turn, chief army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas had told AFP that the decision to send the ISI chief had not been conveyed officially to the army.
Singh asked Gilani to send the ISI chief to India in a telephone conversation between the pair Friday, after New Delhi blamed the attack on its neighbour, something which the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has vehemently denied.
Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari talked to Singh separately and offered to cooperate in the investigation, amid concerns India’s accusations could undo improving relations between the neighbours.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2008