Press Minister fingers Indian High Commission as source of reports that threatening call was fake
Monday, Dec 8, 2008
Pakistani officials have asserted that the so called "hoax" phone call to its President Zardari on November 28, which threatened war in response to the Mumbai attacks, was in fact real and that Indian High Commission officials have since circulated a report in the media suggesting it was false.
Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman has stated that the call was put out from "a verified official Phone Number of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs".
"The identity of this particular call, as evident from the CLI (caller identity) device, showed that the call was placed from a verified official Phone Number of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs", Rehman claimed in a written statement issued in Islamabad and also circulated in Delhi.
According to reports, the caller, said to be Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, told Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari that India would take military action if Islamabad did not hand over the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
Zardari found the call to be so threatening that he responded by putting Pakistan's air force on high alert, triggering a flurry of intense diplomatic activity, as some world leaders feared the row over the attacks could lead to war.
The call, which was made while the Mumbai attacks were still ongoing, was reported as a hoax by the Western mainstream media this weekend.
However, Sherry Rehman claims that this version of events, which first appeared in Pakistani English daily 'Dawn', was "based on a briefing given to a few journalists by a responsible senior official of a neighbouring country based in Islamabad."
Rehman stated "it is not possible for any call to come through to the President without multiple caller identity verifications," she said the call under reference too was "processed, verified and crosschecked under the same procedure."
The 'Dawn' report did not reflect this as it said the caller somehow managed to bypass the standard procedures and was transferred directly to Zardari after introducing himself as Pranab Mukherjee, India's foreign minister.
Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's ambassador in London, told UK's Guardian that the call was traced directly to the Indian government.
"They did it," he said. "It was not a hoax call, but an instrument of psychological warfare. They were trying to scare Pakistan, test the waters for our reaction."
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday denied that he had made any such threatening call and told reporters that the affair was unworthy of comment.
The Indian media, without providing any evidence, has fingered the Pakistani ISI as the source of the call.