Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, chief of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), had met Lashkar-e-Tayyeba's operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail to ask him to disown his outfit's role in the 26/11 attack that he allegedly masterminded.
Lashkar's Pakistan-born American operative David Headley, who had scouted targets for the Mumbai attack and was interrogated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in June in Chicago, revealed this.
Pasha, according to Headley’s revelations accessed by HT, asked Lakhvi during his one-on-one meeting with him to “deny LeT's and ISI’s role in planning and orchestrating the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and declare it to be an al Qaeda operation”.
Lakhvi, however, bluntly refused Pasha' request, saying that the burgeoning awareness across the world about the Lashkar's execution of the "audacious, glorious" Mumbai attack would get it "new members" in huge numbers.
The attacks would also bring in fresh "funds" for the Lashkar from individuals and entities empathetic to the cause of "jihad" in India, Lakhvi added.
Lakhvi was detained on December 7, 2008, by Pakistani authorities along with 11 other individuals linked with the Lashkar during a raid on a training camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. On November 25, 2009, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court charged seven suspects, including Lakhvi, with planning and executing the 26/11 attacks.
Pasha became ISI chief barely a month before the Mumbai attacks, in which a 10-member suicide attack team, including arrested gunman Ajmal Kasab who was awarded death by a Mumbai court, attacked multiple targets and killed more than 166 persons.
“It is probable that the 26/11 attack plan was made by Pasha's predecessor Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj and Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani since it was originally scheduled to take placed in September but got aborted.
Pasha came late and might not have been in the loop,” said a senior counter-terror official, who was not authorised to talk to the media.
Lakhvi, said the official, continues to control Lashkar's terror operations, despite being in jail. “Lakhvi controls the Lashkar’s activities through visitors who meet him in the jail,” the official said.