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ISI is Pakistan's first line of defence, says Musharraf

August 04, 2008 16:19 IST

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Amid pressure from India and the US to rein in the Inter-Services Intelligence, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] has come to its rescue saying any attempt to target the spy agency will weaken Pakistan as it is "the first line of defence" and lashed out at his detractors for calling him an American stooge.

Musharraf, who was addressing businessmen in Karachi on Sunday night, said the recent allegations levelled against the ISI are a 'conspiracy' against Pakistan.

The former military chief described the intelligence agency as the first defence line of Pakistan, saying weakening the ISI would weaken Pakistan and its armed forces as well as the war against terror.

Conspiracies against the ISI are aimed at defaming Pakistan and the spy agency is a patriotic institution working for the stability of the country, he said.

Musharraf's comments came against the backdrop of India and Afghanistan accusing the ISI of being behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed nearly 60 people.

Musharraf hit back at his detractors, saying: "The nation will have to decide as to which kind of Islam it wants. The world says that Pakistan is extremist. We will have to prove that we are not so.When I say this, I'm dubbed as an American stooge. We have to decide whether we want a liberal and moderate Pakistan or a terrorist or extremist Pakistan."

It is widely believed that Musharraf and the armed forces played a key role in pressuring the government to go back on a notification issued last month to place the notorious spy agency under the complete control of the interior ministry.

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