India blames Pakistan, Islamabad threatens UN action (Roundup)

January 6th, 2009 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi/Islamabad, Jan 6 (IANS) India Tuesday pointed a finger for the first time at the Pakistan government, saying the Mumbai attack had the support of Pakistani “official agencies”, even as Islamabad persisted in denial and accused New Delhi of pushing the region to the brink of war. A defiant Islamabad, however, rejected the dossier handed over by New Delhi Monday that sought to link Pakistan-based elements to the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strike saying that the details provided can’t be treated as evidence and even threatened to go to the UN over alleged war-mongering by New Delhi in the wake of the attacks.

Stepping up pressure on Islamabad, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a hard-hitting speech that Pakistan was an example of a “fragile” and “irresponsible” government that had “utilised terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India.”

“The terrorist attack in Mumbai in November last year was carried out by a Pakistan-based outfit, the Lashkar-e-Taiba,” said Manmohan Singh in New Delhi at a meeting of all the state chief ministers on the issue of internal security.

“On the basis of the investigations carried out, (including by agencies of some foreign countries whose nationals were killed in the attack), there is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.”

“The governments in some of our neighbouring countries are very fragile in nature. The more fragile a government, the more it tends to act in an irresponsible fashion. Pakistan’s responses to our various demarches on terrorist attacks is an example,” said Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister’s speech, his strongest accusation against the neiggbouring country since the Mumbai carnage, came close on the heels of Home Minister P. Chidambaram categorically rejecting the Pakistani theory that the people behind the Mumbai attacks were non-state actors.

“Terrorism, on the other hand, is largely sponsored from outside the country, mainly Pakistan, which has utilised terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” asserted the prime minister.

This is the first time the prime minister has explicitly singled out Pakistan’s role in the Nov 26-29 attack and detailed how it continued to harbour terror groups that were antagonistic to India.

Delving at length on the role of Pakistan in the attacks, the prime minister accused Pakistan of whipping up war hysteria. “Today, even as Pakistan engages in whipping up war hysteria, our nation remains steadfastly united and, if anything, the process of national consolidation is becoming stronger.”

Pointing out that terrorists were enlarging the canvas of threats concentrating on attacking economic, infrastructure, and iconic targets, the prime minister said he discerned a pattern in the Mumbai attacks that was to strike a blow on the country’s economic and security interests.

“In the case of Mumbai, a definite link can be discerned between our economic and security interests. Targeting of foreigners, specially from the West, was obviously intended to convey an impression that India was unsafe as a destination for the West and western investments. ”

“We need to effectively counter this impression. We need to ensure that another major terrorist attack does not take place on our soil. We must implement the policy of ‘zero tolerance of terrorism’ with total commitment.”

Predictably, Islamabad reacted sharply with National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani describing the prime minister’s comments as “unfortunate.”

Repudiating New Delhi’s charges, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir accused India of starting the military build-up and even threatened to go to the United Nations.

“The Indian PM is not aware of complete reality, we can go to the UN over the Mumbai crisis,” Bashir told Pakistan’s Geo news channel.

Bashir also picked holes in the dossier presented by India to Pakistan’s high commissioner Shahid Malik Monday, saying several details in the 26/11 dossier were “not credible” and would not stand as evidence.

“The details provided by India are mere information and cannot be treated as evidence or help in the investigations,” Bashir told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

A participant in the meeting said that Bashir gave a detailed briefing on the situation, saying Pakistan was serious in conducting investigations.

“We need concrete evidence of the involvement of Pakistanis (in the Mumbai attacks), without which we cannot move ahead in our investigations,” the member quoted Bashir as saying.

Bashir also told the meeting that Pakistan will not remove its forces from the Indian border until “India relocates its troops to the peacetime locations”. He said Pakistan might go to the United Nations on the Indian war threats and accusations of Pakistan’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

This outright denial stood out in stark contrast with remarks of the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi. “There is no question of rejection of material that the Indian government has given us. We are in the process of examining the evidence and we will get in touch with authorities,” Malik said.

India meanwhile continued with its diplomatic offensive by briefing envoys from around the world on the overt Pakistani links to the Mumbai attacks. A day after he briefed envoys of Russia and 14 countries whose nationals were killed in the Mumbai mayhem, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon shared the material with envoys of permanent members of the Security Council and seven heads of mission of neighbouring countries. In separate briefings, Secretary (West) Nalin Surie and N. Ravi, Secretary (East) also met envoys from around the world and shared with them 26/11 evidence.

Reacting to Pakistan’s denial, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma Tuesday said the acceptance of Pakistani nationality of Ajmal Kasab’s (the lone Mumbai attacker in Indian custody) would be the “first step” to indicate Islamabad’s intention to cooperate.

“Let them first acknowledge that Kasab is a Pakistani. Other things can follow after that,” he told reporters here when asked about Islamabad’s offer for a joint probe into the Mumbai attacks.

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