Omar Sheikh`s hoax calls brought India, Pak close to war

A detained Pak militant had made hoax calls to Zardari to intensify Indo-Pak tensions after 26/11.

Last Updated: Nov 27, 2009, 10:28 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Islamabad: A detained Pakistani militant, reportedly, had made hoax calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to intensify the tensions brewing up between New Delhi and Islamabad in the wake of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

According to a report published in Dawn, investigators have revealed, “Omar Saeed Sheikh, freed by India in lieu of IC-184 passengers, was the hoax caller. It was he who threatened the civilian and military leaderships of Pakistan over telephone. And he did so from inside Hyderabad jail.”

Pakistan had put its forces on high alert after someone pretending to be India`s foreign minister made a phone call to Zardari on November 28, 2008, threatening war after the Mumbai attacks began.

As per the latest news report, Omar Sheikh’s wife, Saadia Omar, had informed her husband of the incident on the night of November 26, 2008. Omar Saeed Sheikh was then in Hyderabad jail and was using a mobile phone secretly.

Saadia reportedly kept her husband aware of all the details of the gruesome incident. And on November 28, 2008, Omar Saeed Sheikh made a phone call to the-then Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee by using a British SIM card.

Omar Saeed Sheikh posed himself as the President of Pakistan while talking to the operator handling Mukherjee’s calls. However, he could not talk to Mukherjee, but was told that the Indian foreign minister would talk to him soon. Then, Omar Saeed Sheikh made calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff.

Omar Saeed Sheikh also tried to telephone the-then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, but due to specific checks by US officials the call was not put through.

There were frantic phone calls between Washington, Islamabad and New Delhi to cool the temperature and by the evening of November 29, calm had been restored.

It is pertinent to mention here that former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf, in his biography, had alleged that Sheikh was an agent of the British intelligence agency, MI6.

He is currently languishing in Karachi Jail.

Sheikh was one of the militants freed by India during the IC-184 hostage drama in 1999.

It is believed that soon after his release, he developed close relations with the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s (LeT) leaders, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi.

Sheikh also spent days in terror camps based in POK’s Muzaffarabad, where he used to deliver lectures to the new recruits.

He was arrested in 2002 for killing US journalist Daniel Pearl.

(With ANI inputs)