Indian government, opposition dub Pakistan ‘epicentre of terrorism’ (Intro Roundup)

December 11th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader L.K. Advani Thursday joined hands in a rare show of national unity in India’s parliament to dub Pakistan as the “epicentre of terrorism” for the Mumbai carnage and vowed to bring to justice the killers and their patrons.A fortnight after 10 ruthless and well-armed terrorists sneaked into India’s financial capital through the sea and ravaged Mumbai killing over 170 people, the Lok Sabha unanimously passed a resolution to denounce the “terrorist elements from Pakistan” and declared that “India shall not cease her efforts until the terrorists and those who have tained, funded and abetted them are exposed and brought to justice”.

The mood of the lower house was clear from the time it convened in the morning to discuss the horrendous Mumbai terror attacks that killed 26 foreigners as well besides leading to the death of nine of the terrorists and the dramatic capture of one of them.

Hours after Advani called upon the government not to shy away from naming Pakistan as the “epicentre” of global terror, Manmohan Singh — born in that country when it was still a part of India — obliged. One political leader after another urged Indians to set aside their differences to take on and defeat terror.

In his speech that was heard in rapt attention in the house, Manmohan Singh said: “We have to galvanise the international community into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism which is located in Pakistan.”

“The infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled permanently. This is for the good of the entire world community including the well being of the people of Pakistan themselves,” he added, his words betraying the continuing national anger and disgust over the Mumbai terror and killings.

Both the prime minister and the new Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who earlier on gave a detailed account of the terrible agony Mumbai underwent, announced a slew of steps India has taken since the Nov 26-29 mayhem to beef up its security and intelligence machinery.

These include a national investigation agency, new counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools as well as a coastal command for an effective monitoring of the 7,500 km of the country’s winding coastline.

And while Chidamabaram made it clear that it could not be “business as usual” with Pakistan after the Mumbai siege, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee outlined New Delhi’s diplomatic moves and options. He too maintained that the terrorists did come from Pakistan.

“We expect Pakistan to take some positive steps. It is for the Pakistan government to decide,” Mukherjee said.

He said Pakistan needed to hand over 40 people New Delhi believes are behind militant attacks and other crimes in India but ruled out military action as a solution.

India has blamed the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which experts say enjoys close ties with the Pakistani intelligence, for the Mumbai attacks. The Lashkar has resurrected itself as the Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD), which hours before the Indian parliament met was declared a terrorist outfit by the UN Security Council.

Mukhejee asked Pakistan to move beyond “mere expressions of intent” and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in its territory. “Issues can’t be ducked. Issues can’t be sidelined.”

He challenged the argument of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari that the Mumbai gunmen were “non-state actors” over whom he had no control. “Are non-state actors coming from heaven? Did they come from another planet?”

Underlining global solidarity with India, the minister underlined that the Mumbai attack was part of global terror as it targeted and killed 26 foreigners. “We should build up a campaign. This is not an India-Pakistan problem. This is part of global terrorism.”

In his first speech since taking over as home minister Dec 1, Chidambaram, who is overseeing the investigation into the terror strike, said: “Given the nature of the (terrorist) threats, we cannot go back to business as usual… The finger of suspicion unmistakably points to the territory of our neighbour Pakistan.”

He emphasised the need to make the intelligence machinery “effective” and “result oriented”.

In his speech, Advani — who too was born in Pakistan — cautioned the government against relying fully on the UN Security Council to bring the Mumbai killers to justice.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said Mumbai was “an attack on our nation”. “It was an attack on the idea of India. They attacked the freedom of our people. They have attacked all of us.”

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