- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Pakistan said Friday that it has sent “feedback and information” to India about the Mumbai attacks, and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. came here to underscore how seriously the incoming U.S. administration takes the terror threat from South Asia.

New Delhi recently said it gave Islamabad a dossier of evidence linking the Mumbai attacks to Pakistan, but it was unclear whether Pakistan’s feedback related directly to that dossier.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters that the CIA had played an intermediary role and that Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had reviewed the information from India. He gave few other details.

India gave 52 pages of information to the CIA that was passed to the ISI, and the Pakistani agency gave “feedback and information” that was handed to India in return, Mr. Gilani said.

India said Pakistani militants were behind the November attacks, which killed more than 170 people in its financial hub. It specifically blames the banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is believed to have links to the Pakistani intelligence agency. Pakistan acknowledged this week that the one survivor among the 10 gunmen involved in the terror attacks is a Pakistani citizen. It denies that any of its state agencies were involved.

U.S. officials worry that a conflict with India could distract Pakistan from eliminating militant sanctuaries along the Afghan frontier, and have urged India and Pakistan to cooperate.

Mr. Biden was the latest in a string of envoys to visit Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks. He came in his capacity as a senator and was accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican. He met with Mr. Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari, among other top officials.

In a statement, Mr. Gilani said he pressed upon Mr. Biden the importance of greater U.S. aid to improve Pakistan’s military capacity. Mr. Biden has spearheaded legislation to increase humanitarian spending in Pakistan but that also links military aid to Islamabad’s performance in the fight against militants.

Mr. Gilani also said the two countries should share more intelligence so that Pakistan could go after militant targets on its own, removing the need for American missile strikes on its territory. Pakistan routinely condemns such strikes.

In a separate statement, Mr. Zardari assured Mr. Biden of Pakistan’s commitment to “the war against militancy, extremism and terrorism.”

The state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said Mr. Zardari bestowed an award on Mr. Biden, the “Hilal-i-Pakistan,” to recognize his contribution to strengthening U.S.-Pakistan relations.

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