Washington: Underlining the "critical friend and ally” status given to Pakistan by the US, the American attorneys hired by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have pleaded immunity for their clients in the Mumbai attacks case, reports claimed Thursday.
Attorneys Allen Wasserman and Kevin Walsh further questioned jurisdiction of US courts in the matter.
The lawsuit, filed last year in a Brooklyn court by relatives of two Jewish victims of the Mumbai attacks, alleges that Pakistan’s spy chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and his predecessor Nadeem Taj helped the Lashkar-e-Toiba conduct the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
In a May 06 brief, the attorneys cited case law and maintained that "under fundamental principles of international law long accepted by the courts of the United States, ISI, as a `foreign sovereign` is immune from the jurisdiction of this court."
Referring to Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj, the brief maintained that the "Director General Defendants, officials of a foreign sovereign sued for acts taken in their official capacity, are similarly immune under common law principles of `foreign official immunity` long recognised by US courts."
The two lawyers are with the Dallas-based firm of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, whose lobbying arm, Locke Lord Strategies, represents the Pakistan government in Washington.
The firm reportedly was paid over USD 2 million in fees since it signed a contract with the Pakistan government in 2008. The chief of the firm`s Pakistan lobbying account is Mark Siegel, a close aide of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto.
According to the 35-page brief, the Pakistan government "regards any assertion of jurisdiction over its high officials" by a US court "as an intrusion on its sovereignty, in violation of international law".
The Pakistan government has vowed to defend the ISI officials named in the lawsuit. It has, however, given no indication that it will defend LeT founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and other LeT leaders who have been accused of playing a key role in the attacks.
(With Agencies` inputs)