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Pakistan Denies Report Linking Spy Service to Kabul Bombing


Pakistani officials are denying reports that the country's intelligence service helped plan last month's fatal bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan. Reports to that effect in U.S. newspapers come just a day before the first ever meeting between the current prime ministers of India and Pakistan is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Colombo, where regional leaders have gathered for an annual summit.

In the hours before the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are to meet here, Pakistani officials are finding themselves doing political damage control.

They are calling "baseless" U.S. media reports that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, known as the ISI, had a hand in the July 7 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq tells VOA News his government has not received any evidence supporting the allegation.

"Nobody has given us any proof. We have said if there is any proof of Pakistan's involvement we would like to see the proof of that because merely alleging something means nothing," he said. "And we believe it's not a very good trend to put blame on Pakistan's door whenever something happens in the region."

Stories in the New York Timesand Washington Post newspapers say U.S. officials intercepted communications between Pakistani officials and those in Afghanistan who carried out the attack.

Sadiq was asked if rogue elements of the intelligence service could be operating without the knowledge of the prime minister or other high-ranking government and military officials.

"ISI is an agency which is linked with Pakistan Army, it reports to the prime minister," he said. "Do you think that is possible that agencies would do something like this?"

Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is scheduled to meet on Saturday in Colombo with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. The two are among the heads of government attending the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, as well as the deteriorating relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan are threatening to overshadow the summit.

The July 7 bombing of India's embassy in Kabul killed 41 people, including four Indians.

India has accused Pakistan of taking part in the bombing, and warned that the peace process between the two, longtime rivals was "under stress." But following a meeting with Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday here, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters "a lot of steam has been let out of the pressure cooker."

Earlier in the week, India had accused Pakistani troops of crossing the Line of Control where a cease-fire has been in place for eight years. Pakistan has rejected the claim.

Kashmir has been the catalyst for two of the three wars fought between India and Pakistan.