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Pak blocking US 26/11 suit that nails ISI chief

world Updated: May 12, 2011 02:21 IST

Pakistan is preparing to block a lawsuit in a US court that alleges the involvement of its spy chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, on the grounds that it will pour “gasoline on the fire” of Indo-Pak relations.

The country’s military-run ISI has roped in American lawyers, who are moving to quash the lawsuit in a Brooklyn court by arguing that if the case proceeds, it “will fuel violence and extremism” that will threaten the Pakistan government.

The lawsuit, filed last year by relatives of two Jewish victims of 26/11, alleges that Pasha and his predecessor Nadeem Taj helped Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) conduct the attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

It charges that the ISI provided “critical planning, material support, control and coordination” of the Mumbai attacks under the leadership of Pasha and Taj.

This allegedly included providing funding to David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American, who has pleaded guilty in a US federal court to conducting surveillance for the Mumbai attacks under the direction of an ISI case officer, identified only as ‘Major Iqbal’.

According to a brief filed last week by lawyers Kevin Walsh and Allen Wasserman on behalf of the ISI, the Pakistan government “regards any assertion of jurisdiction over its high officials” by a US court “as an intrusion on its sovereignty, in violation of international law”.

The brief argues that Pakistan is a “wartime ally of the United States” in the fight against al Qaeda and that the lawsuit will damage that alliance.

The two American lawyers work for the Dallas-based firm Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, whose lobbying arm, Locke Lord Strategies, represents the Pakistan government in Washington. The firm reportedly was paid over two million dollars in fees since it signed a contract with the Pakistan government in 2008.