26/11 case in US against ISI may harm US-Pak ties: Attorney

"Asserting jurisdiction over Pakistan and it officials will further stress the relationship between Pakistan and the US, with potential disastrous consequences for the relationship and the region," attorney Kevin J Wash told a New York court in a recent submission.

Wash represents in the court the ISI and its present and past chiefs against whom the the American relatives of the victims and survivors of the 26/11 attacks have filed a case for their alleged involvement in the terrorist strikes.

On behalf of the ISI and its present and former chiefs, Wash urged the court to dismiss the case against the Pakistani spy agency, which is accused of being responsible for planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks, because the US has not declared Pakistan a "state sponsor of terrorism" despite the statements made by LeT operative David Headley on ISI.

"Despite having David Headley (principal prosecution witness in the Tahawwur Rana trial) in custody since October 2009, with full access to whatever he has to say about ISI, the United States has never declared Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism."

In his testimony before the Chicago court early this year, Headley had said that he was trained by the ISI in spying and surveillance of attack sites in Mumbai. He told the Chicago court that his ISI handler was one Major Iqbal.

The ISI attorney also urged the New York court to seek input from the State Department, arguing that case against the Pakistani intelligence service would harm the relationship between the US and Pakistan, which is an ally of the United States in its war against terrorism.

The US Government, Wash said, has consistently dealt with and treated both ISI and the military of Pakistan as legitimate parts of the recognised government of Pakistan.
"US law in fact defines ISI as part of the security forces of Pakistan."

All of the news reports, leaked cables and confidential documents submitted with plaintiffs' opposition do not and cannot contest the legitimate status of the Government of Pakistan and ISI as part of that government, Wash said.

"Indeed, ISI is not a separate legal entity -- it is part of the Federation of Pakistan -- and these cases are claims against the Federation of Pakistan," the ISI attorney said

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