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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 17:45 GMT
Pakistan 'offered aid' to Maoists
Prachanda accuses the ISI of supporting the Nepalese monarch
Nepal's Maoist rebel leader has said he turned down support from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency during the 10-year insurrection.

Prachanda said he rejected the offer because it would have been against the "self-respect" of the Nepalese people.

He said that he was approached "time and time again" by the ISI.

The intelligence agency has been accused by India of fomenting trouble in Indian-administered Kashmir and by Afghanistan of supporting the Taleban.

The Pakistani deputy information minister in Islamabad has denied the allegations.

But Prachanda was adamant that his allegations were true.

'Moral support'

"Since we started our people's war, we had been hinted time and again by the ISI, sometimes directly and at times obliquely, that it was ready to lend its hand in terms of weapons supply and others, but we bluntly refused," Prachanda said.

Women Maoist fighters in training

"Accepting such an offer would have been against the self-respect and sovereignty of the people of Nepal."

The rebel leader was speaking after returning to Nepal after taking part in a conference in India.

He said that as the "people's war" developed, the activities of the ISI receded.

He also said that the king was encouraged to persist with direct rule earlier this year with "moral support from countries like Pakistan".

He said that Islamabad was one of the first countries to support the king's assumption of direct powers.

The BBC's Mahmud Ali says that the ISI is accused of many vices.

Critics say it runs "a state within a state", subverts elected governments, supports the Taleban and is even involved in drug smuggling.

Pakistan's government denies the allegations.

Our correspondent says that like many other military intelligence organisations, the shadowy ISI zealously guards its secrets and evidence against it is sketchy.

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