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Zardari denies ISI hand in Indian mission attack

PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari denies the role of his country's intelligence agency in the bloody suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

world Updated: Aug 29, 2008 12:52 IST

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari, his eyes set on the presidency, has denied the involvement of his country's intelligence agency in the bloody suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Zardari also told Newsweek in an interview, conducted before the departure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from the ruling alliance, that his country could learn from India's coalition politics.

"The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is not responsible for the bombing of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan," Zardari said authoritatively. "We in Pakistan have denied this story."

Over 50 people, including two Indian diplomats and two Indian security personnel, were killed when a suicide bomber exploded himself at the gates of the mission in July.

Afghanistan, India, and the US, blamed the ISI for the attack, which Indian officials said was a message to New Delhi to stop backing the Hamid Karzari regime in Kabul.

Zardari was asked if his government in Pakistan could control the ISI, which is widely seen as a state within a state.

"Obviously ISI is going to be controlled," he said. "There is no other choice. ISI is part of the state."

Zardari gave a cautious response when he was reminded that his assassinated wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto considered the ISI a problem.

"I am not saying they haven't been a problem in the past, but everybody learns from their mistakes."

Newsweek, which spoke to him before the latest political crisis in Islamabad, wanted to know if Pakistan's ruling coalition could be in power for five years.

"The government is stable enough to last for five years," he said. "The people in the West have little experience with coalition governments, but if you look at the Indian model, you will find that there are (17) parties today in coalition in India. With four or five parties, we can manage."

Zardari made it clear that he was not worried about stability - or a new election.

"If there is a fresh election, everybody will participate, and if another party is more popular than PPP, they have a right to govern."

Zardari also said that he did want to see former president Pervez Musharraf exiled from Pakistan.

"Personally, I would like him to be around and see us flourish and make Pakistan a success story. I think that would be the revenge of Benazir Bhutto."

The Pakistani military, he said, "has come full circle and they are going to be following the constitution... They have realized that their business is not to govern."