Pakistan`s former High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Basheer Wali Mohammed said in Islamabad last week that he had `convincing evidence` that a powerful regional intelligence agency was behind the August 2006 bid to assassinate him in Colombo.
Dismissing widespread claims that the LTTE executed the claymore mine attack in Kollupitiya while he was returning after attending Pakistani Independence Day celebrations, he said a two-paged newspaper article written by a person closely linked to this intelligence arm made pointed reference to his Colombo assignment shortly before he took over as the High Commissioner.
Speaking to a group of visiting Sri Lankan journalists at the prestigious Pakistan Club in Islamabad, he explained that he had traveled extensively in Sri Lanka sans any personal security during the major part of his two years as an envoy.
`I even visited the North, and if the LTTE wanted to kill me, they could have struck at any time`, he pointed out. `But apparently, they were disinterested in harming me`.
The LTTE was implicated in the assassination attempt on Wali Mohammed, a professional soldier who later headed the country`s key intelligence bureau, because of Pakistan`s close military cooperation with Sri Lanka.
`At face value, the LTTE was taken as the perpetrator, but subsequently we were able to establish the involvement of this intelligence agency of a neighbouring country`, he asserted. `We are now positive that they were behind it`.
He recalled that his daughter who generally drives behind his official Mercedes Benz had a narrow shave because he was taking her to a doctor as she was suffering from a severe tooth ache that day. `Otherwise, she would have also been killed`.
He also recounted how President Mahinda Rajapakse personally telephoned him minutes after the blast and even sent his official bullet-proof car for his use.
`I think I have seen so much of fighting in my life as a battle-hardened cavalry soldier that I remained calm when saw this ball of fire`, he said. `There were two deadly mines`.
`I heard my wife scream that we were under attack and when I looked to the rear I saw the jeep of the soldiers guarding me missing`, he recalled. `Everything happened within seconds`.
`The devastation I saw transported me back to the time when my armoured vehicle was blown up during the war with India, and I was badly injured`, he said, showing a scar on his forehead.
Wali Mohammed, now a provincial Minister, said that he personally paid Rs. 200,000 to each family of the five Lankan soldiers killed in the explosion. `It was out of my pocket as the money was not reimbursed by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry`.
Later, the Pakistani government also paid another Rs. 400,000 to 500,000 each to these dependents while one family of a soldier, who had a young son, was given a house as well, the former envoy said.
Describing President Mahinda Rajapakse as a `personal friend`, he said that he still maintains a close link which took him back to Sri Lanka as a special guest even after his tenure as a diplomat.
`It was I who persuaded the President to crush LTTE terrorism militarily as the government had adequate resources at its disposal`, he noted. `I am glad the President heeded my advice as terrorism is a global menace`.
He pledged continued Pakistani military assistance to fight the scourge of LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka.