New Delhi, Sept. 22: A Pakistani minister’s admission of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s presence in the country and subsequent attempts at denial are being seen by South Block as one more example of the Pervez Musharraf regime’s lack of credibility.
India has for several years been accusing Pakistan of providing safe haven to the Mumbai don and his associates Chhota Shakeel and Tiger Memon, who are all involved in the 1993 blasts in Mumbai.
So it created a stir — in both countries — when a senior police official in Sindh and the province’s home minister, Aftab Sheikh, recently said that Dawood and his associates were not only present in Karachi but also had “substantial interests” in the port city. This is the first time that any Pakistani politician has publicly made such an admission about the Mumbai don’s presence in the country.
Though Sheikh later tried to say he had been misquoted by reporters, his remarks about Dawood and his gang in Karachi substantiates what Delhi has been saying for years.
When Musharraf came to Delhi on his way to Agra for the summit with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had raised the issue with the Pakistan President. But Musharraf had denied not only providing shelter to Dawood but also his presence in Pakistan.
“If he had taken some serious steps in handing over Dawood and his associates who are nothing but common criminals, it would have had a positive impact on bilateral relations,” a senior foreign ministry official said.