India summons Pakistan envoy, wants strong action against militants (Roundup)December 2nd, 2008 - 12:05 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Islamabad, Dec 1 (IANS) India Monday made it clear that Mumbai’s bloody terror strikes were carried out by Pakistan-based militants and asked Islamabad to take “strong action” against the “elements responsible for this outrage” - a sign that bilateral ties between the two countries are headed for a rocky patch. The Indian external affairs ministry summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik in New Delhi and told him sternly that Pakistan’s actions must match its Jan 6, 2004, pledge not to allow its territory for anti-India terror strikes if it wanted better bilateral ties.
“He was informed that the recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was carried out by elements from Pakistan,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement Monday evening.
“The government expects that strong action would be taken against those elements, whosoever they may be, responsible for this outrage,” the ministry underlined.
“It was conveyed to the Pakistan high commissioner that Pakistan’s actions needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India,” the ministry said.
Vivek Katju, Special Secretary (Political and International Organizations) in the external affairs ministry, served the demarche to the Pakistani envoy when he met him at his office in South Block.
India asked Pakistan to take urgent action on the ground to dismantle terrorist infrastructure on its territory, official sources said.
New Delhi also demanded the extradition of known terror masterminds like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Maulana Masood Azhar, and LeT chief Hafez Mohammed Sayeed, who are suspected to have a hand in major terror strikes against India, sources added.
A day after the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strikes that left at least 183 people dead, India had indicated the involvement of “elements in Pakistan” in this meticulously choreographed attacks at 10 landmarks in India’s financial capital.
Terrorists came to Mumbai via the sea route from Karachi along the Gujarat coast, according to preliminary findings.
Subsequent investigations have yielded more damning evidence of the complicity of Pakistan-based militants in the Mumbai attacks that now threaten to derail the peace process between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The interrogation of the lone surviving terrorist, who was caught alive during an attack at Chowpatty, has also disclosed that the Mumbai terror plot was hatched in Pakistan, according to intelligence agencies.
The arrested militant, Ajmal Qasab, has confessed that he was trained at a camp in Pakistan by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned militant outfit which was created by Pakistan’s ISI to foment insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakistani government has vehemently denied any link to the Mumbai blasts, but has not ruled out the possibility of the involvement of “non-state actors” in the brazen terror strikes.
“Such a tragic incident must bring opportunity rather than the defeat of a nation,” Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said Monday in an interview with a Pakistani news channel. “We don’t think the world’s great nations and countries can be held hostage by non-state actors.”
Zardari has demanded evidence linking elements in Pakistan to the Mumbai terror strikes and assured India of strictest action against them.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called for a meeting of all political parties’ leaders Tuesday to evolve a consensus on Pakistan’s policy towards India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.
Pakistan’s prime minister, president and foreign minister have also launched a diplomatic offensive and are calling up Western capitals to convince them that the Pakistani state did not have a hand in the terror strikes in Mumbai.
With the India-Pakistan peace process coming under strain, US President George W. Bush has asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to travel to India to underline solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism.
At least 20 foreigners, including six Americans and nine Israelis, have been killed in the mayhem in Mumbai unleashed by terrorists.
US President-elect Barack Obama is also closely monitoring the situation in the aftermath of the terror attacks which is set to affect his plan to end the Taliban-led violence in Afghanistan as any confrontation between India and Pakistan will lead to a diversion of Pakistani troops from its Afghan border to the India border.
The US needs the crucial assistance of the Pakistan Army to defeat a resurgent Taliban that has found shelter in tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.
Rice will be on a day-long visit to India Wednesday. She will be meeting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Rice has made it clear that she expects Pakistan to cooperate fully with any probe.
“What we are emphasizing to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” Rice told reporters in London.
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that’s what we expect.”