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Pak tries to stop US from supporting suit against ISI chief

December 24, 2010 18:30 IST
Pakistani diplomats are engaged in behind-the-scenes diplomacy in a bid to stop United States President Barack Obama's administration from supporting a lawsuit filed against Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in a US court by relatives of two Jewish-American victims of the Mumbai terror attacks.

The Pakistani diplomats are busy with efforts to prevent the US administration from backing the private complaint, The News daily reported, quoting unnamed sources as saying.

"So far, the US administration has not given any indication that they would support this private lawsuit but who knows what happens next," an unnamed Pakistani official was quoted as saying by the daily.

The American court in Brooklyn has summoned ISI chief Pasha, his predecessor Nadeem Taj and LeT commanders, including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, to appear before it in connection with the suit filed by kin of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, who were among the 166 people killed during the 2008 attacks. No date has been fixed for a hearing or any conference call between lawyers and the judge, The News reported.

Court sources and Jim Kriendler, the lawyer for the complainants, said the defendants, including ISI's current and former chiefs, had been served notices but the court had not fixed any date for a hearing so far.

The lawsuit was filed in the last week of November and the notices were issued at the same time.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday told Pakistan's Parliament that the ISI is an "extremely important" organisation and no force could pressure its chief to appear before a US court in connection with the lawsuit. He said the government would make a decision on the issue after consulting the ISI and other stakeholders.

The News also said that there was a "tense calm" between Pakistan and US over news reports apparently based on leaks from the Obama administration. "We have been taking up this issue with top US authorities for quite some time that the information which is being put out against Pakistani security agencies in the form of leaks could only spoil the situation," the unnamed Pakistani official said.

"It only increases mistrust in each other. If there are any concerns or issues, bring them on the table rather than making it public through newspapers," the official added.