Dawood held in high esteem in Pakistan: Musharraf

New Delhi : Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf has said that although he can’t confirm gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s presence in Pakistan, the suspected mastermind behind the 1993 Mumbai multiple bombings, is being held in “high esteem” by many in his country making his extradition “complicated”.

In an interview to NDTV, Musharraf, who is in exile in London, reiterated he was close to sealing a deal on Sir Creek and Siachen in 2007 and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was planning to visit Islamabad for it. That visit would have changed history, he said. He also stressed that notes were exchanged at the highest level on Kashmir and the two leaders “were trying to move forward in drafting the deal”.

“They think that he (Dawood) did a very good job… Because Indians killed 3,000 Gujaratis. In Gujarat they killed 3,000 Muslims,” Musharraf said when asked about the prospects of the extradition of India’s most wanted to India.

“Therefore Dawood Ibrahim reacted. So he is held in high esteem. This is what happens in Pakistan,” said Musharraf, who was president of Pakistan for nine long years.

“Yes, it must not be. It must not be, no. I won’t agree. I agree with you. It should not be. But things are not as simple. That is what I am trying to say. I think things are very complicated. They are not simple,” he replied when asked whether the response to Gujarat riots should have been through bombings and terror.

Musharraf’s comments suggest that Ibrahim may be given refuge in Pakistan, which contradicts the assurance he gave to BJP leader L.K. Advani in 2001 in Agra. “…You would be making a great contribution to the peace process if you handed over to India Dawood Ibrahim,” Advani said in a blog recently. “Mr. Advani, let me tell you emphatically that Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan,” Advani quotes Musharraf as saying.

Pakistan has consistently denied that Ibrahim was in that country despite India maintaining that that he continues to live in a palatial house in Karachi.

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