Pakistan has for the first time acknowledged that the coordinated terrorist attacks that killed 179 people in Mumbai, India, in November were plotted -- at least in part -- on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan's top Interior Ministry official, Rehman Malik, informed journalists in Islamabad of the domestic link. He said six suspects are in custody and that two more remain at large.
Malik added that the investigation points to the involvement of the banned militant group Lashka-e Taiba, but named an individual whose possible ties to the group are unknown as the mastermind.
Days after the deadly assault on Mumbai landmarks, Pakistani security agencies arrested Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, the alleged masterminds of the attacks. The move followed Indian allegations that the attacks were orchestrated from Pakistan.
During today's press conference, Malik said that evidence collected shows some connection to Lashkar-e Taiba's leadership, including Lakhvi and Shah. But he named 38-year-old Hamad Amin, a little-known militant from eastern Punjab Province, as the alleged mastermind of the attacks.
The announcement came as Indian officials have been accusing Pakistan of dragging its feet in investigating the Mumbai attacks. Addressing this, Malik said the findings of the investigation have been sent to the Indian government, and requested cooperation from India in helping Pakistan prosecute suspected plotters.
Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based author and commentator, tells RFE/RL that the development is a "major breakthrough."
"It shows that Pakistan was sincerely interested in the investigation of the Mumbai attacks," Hussain says. "And they did carry out [an investigation]. It is a major breakthrough in the investigation."
Hussain said the Pakistani investigations could help satisfy Indian concerns over Islamabad's willingness to cooperate in uncovering those responsible for Mumbai.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vishnu Pakash had no immediate reaction to today's announcement in Islamabad.
Indian media quote Pakash as saying that the authorities in New Delhi are studying Pakistan's report and will soon issue an official reaction.