India looks beyond Kasab, asks Pakistan to hand over all Mumbai suspects (Roundup)

January 9th, 2009 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi/Islamabad, Jan 9 (IANS) Two days after Pakistan admitted the nationality of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Mumbai attacker in Indian custody, India Friday ratcheted up pressure on Islamabad and asked it to hand over all those in that country behind the carnage. “Pakistan has to do much more. It must agree to send back all those people who are behind this terror to India,” Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told Times Now TV news channel Friday.

“Pakistan must agree to hand over terrorists to face trial in India,” he underlined. “If Pakistan asks for consular access, we will give it,” Sharma replied when asked whether India was ready to give Pakistani consular access to Kasab.

According to Indian intelligence agencies, top operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) like Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah had played a leading role in masterminding the Mumbai mayhem from Pakistan. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, LeT leaders have already confessed to their involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.

Under intense pressure from India and the international community, Pakistan officially admitted the nationality of Kasab Wednesday after more than a month of the Mumbai tragedy.

In a hard-hitting speech, Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that “given the sophistication and military precision of the (Mumbai) attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan”.

With India determined to keep peace process on hold till Pakistan takes concrete action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage, Islamabad Friday struck a conciliatory tone, saying that it does not want any escalation in tension and wants to resolve all issues through dialogue.

The US also stepped up pressure on Pakistan to act against terror outfits responsible for the Mumbai attack and underlined that it “will pursue the attackers as long as it takes.”

US Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, who arrived in Islamabad, held talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and impressed upon his host the urgent need to take action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem.

Talking to the media after addressing a seminar in Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the situation on the “eastern border has once again turned fragile” and underlined that his country wants to resolve all issues through dialogue and does not want any escalation in tension.

Urging the global community to play its role in defusing the tension between Pakistan and India, Gilani said Pakistan did not want any escalation and was ready to hold a dialogue with India.

He regretted that India had rejected the proposal to form a joint commission to probe the Mumbai attacks, adding: “We are sincere in resolving the (Mumbai attacks) issue.”

Gilani’s remarks come a couple of days after New Delhi reacted sharply to Islamabad’s rejection of the dossier of evidence presented Monday that sought to link Pakistan-based elements with the Mumbai carnage and rejected all proposals for talks or setting up new mechanism.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday indicated India’s wariness with Pakistan’s flip-flop after the Mumbai attacks, saying he hoped Islamabad would not backtrack on its commitments and that it would fulfil its anti-terror pledge.

Mukherjee also stressed that others could not have confidence in Pakistan’s investigations because the Pakistani government has no confidence in its own investigations, as it has asked the UN to solve former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

The US kept the pressure on Pakistan with Vice-President-elect Joe Biden holding an hour-long meeting with Zardari in the Pakistani capital that focused mostly on the Mumbai terror probe and the situation in Afghanistan. “The focus of the talks was the war on terror and Pakistan’s relations with India after the Mumbai attacks,” a senior official told IANS.

At the presidency, Biden was awarded the Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam, a civilian award usually given to foreign dignitaries for their support for Pakistan.

Biden will go to Afghanistan which is set to become top foreign policy priority of the incoming Obama administration. Speculation is doing the rounds that Biden may come to India, but official sources told IANS that no trip of Biden to New Delhi is on the cards.

In New Delhi, US ambassador David Mulford again underlined Washington’s resolve to bring the Mumbai attackers to justice.

“We are pursuing the probe to bring the people who conducted these heinous acts to book. We will press ahead as long as it takes,” he said. The envoy, however, struck a cautious note on India’s allegation about the involvement of Pakistani official agencies in the Mumbai attack.

“I don’t want to make accusations without proof,” the US ambassador told reporters here when asked whether he suspected the involvement of Pakistan’s official agencies in the Nov 26 Mumbai carnage.

“It appears that it has been conducted by Pakistani people who have been trained in Pakistan. It appears to have been managed and monitored in Pakistan,” Mulford said days after Pakistan officially admitted the nationality of Ajmal Kasab.

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