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Zardari fielded hoax call, Pak went into war-alert mode

A hoax call - from a man pretending to be External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee - made to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari...

A hoax call—from a man pretending to be External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee—made to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari sent the entire Pakistani establishment into a tizzy, even prompting Pakistan to put its air force on high alert, according to a report in Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

The call by a man identifying himself as Pranab Mukherjee was put through to Zardari on November 28, the report said. The report said the caller spoke in a “threatening manner”. Dawn said the country’s air force was put on high alert in response to the call. It said it came from a New Delhi number, but that Indian officials believed the caller ID could have been manipulated.

“India, through diplomatic channels, has informed the Pakistani Foreign Ministry that Pranab Mukherjee made no such call,” a security official in Pakistan, who refused to be named, said.

A day after the call, two Pakistani security officials warned the government would pull its troops from the anti-terrorism fight along the border with Afghanistan in order to respond to any Indian military mobilisation.

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During a briefing, one of those officials said someone from the Indian Foreign Ministry had called “a top Pakistani personality” and threatened military action if Pakistan did not cooperate with New Delhi.

India chose not to react and “dignify” such reports.

First published on: 07-12-2008 at 01:58 IST
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