The surprising dismissal came hours after the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan newswire cited a foreign ministry spokesman as confirming that Qasab "is a Pakistani national and further investigations are being carried out".

India has long been insisting that the arrested suspect was a Pakistani, and on Tuesday officially gave Islamabad the information that New Delhi says links the perpetrators to elements inside Pakistan.

Relations between New Delhi and Islamabad are at the lowest ebb since the November 26 attacks in India's financial hub of Mumbai, where more than 170 people were killed by 10 armed men believed to be linked with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba organisation.