Original source: Pakistan acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were launched from its shores and at least partly plotted on its soil.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik confirmed that Pakistan had arrested most of the main suspects and initiated criminal proceedings.

‘Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan and , according to the available information, most of the suspects are in our custody,’ he said.

Mr Malik said that criminal cases had been opened against eight suspects on charges of ‘abetting, conspiracy and facilitation’ of a terrorist act and that six of them were already in custody.

He reported that investigators had traced a boat engine that was used by the attackers to sail from Pakistan to India and had busted two hideouts of the suspects near Karachi.

Other leads pointed to Europe and the US, Mr Malik said, adding that Pakistan would ask the FBI for help.

He also reported that the pieces of evidence that had been collected ‘connect to’ the leadership of Lashkar-e-Taiba, including Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, who India says masterminded the attacks.

But he said that Pakistan needed more assistance from India if it was to bring a successful criminal prosecution.

India and the US have urged Pakistan to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group that has been widely blamed for the bloodshed.

Pakistan has already arrested several of the group’s leaders.

New Delhi says that all 10 gunmen, only one of whom was captured alive, were Pakistanis and that their handlers in Pakistan had kept in touch with them by phone during the three-day assault.

Pakistani investigators have not yet identified the nine gunmen killed in the attack.

But they have confirmed that Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the gunman who was caught alive, is a Pakistani.

Mr Malik’s statement indicates that Pakistan is serious about punishing the people behind the November attacks which killed at least 173 people and stirred fears that the nuclear-armed neighbours could slide towards war.

Senior Indian ministers have accused Pakistani security agencies of some involvement in the attacks.