Pakistani officials deny that Pakistani Taliban terrorists were involved in planning the Times Square case where a Pakistani-American man is accused of planting an improvised bomb in the landmark New York area. The bomb was detected before it could go off on Saturday night.
American investigators have said that Faisal Shahzad, who has been arrested in the case, has admitted to have trained in Waziristan by the Pakistani Taliban.
Qari Hussain, a Pakistani Taliban ‘commander’ who trains suicide bombers in South Waziristan, had taken responsibility for the failed attack; he called it an act of ‘revenge for American interference and terrorism in Muslim countries.’
But Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik rejected Shahzad’s links to his country.
‘No arrest has been made in Pakistan regarding the Times Square attack plot; there is no evidence of Shahzad’s contacts with any militant groups in Pakistan,’ Malik said after Shahzad’s arrest in New York.
Contradicting Malik’s claims, American officials have stated that Pakistan has arrested several people in Karachi on the basis of information provided by Shahzad during his interrogation.
Shahzad’s family has deep roots in Pakistan’s powerful military. His father is former Air Vice Marshal Baharul Haq; his uncle Major General (retired) Tajul Haq served as inspector general of the Frontier Corps, an organisation like India’s Border Security Force.
The Pakistan army has described the Pakistani Taliban’s claim that it was behind the Times Square plot as baseless.
‘Anybody can claim anything,’ Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas said. ‘I do not think the Pakistani Taliban has the capacity to carry out attacks overseas because the army has destroyed their facilities.’
‘A link between Faisal Shahzad and Waziristan is yet to be established,’ Major General Abbas added. ‘Until and unless the link is established, it will be premature to say that he had gone there.’
A retired Pakistan air force officer told on condition that he would not be identified by name for this report: “I know Faisal very closely. He is a well-educated person who cannot be linked with any act of terrorism; it is actually a ploy to malign the Pakistani military.”
Tahir Ali in Islamabad