Britain blames Lashkar for Mumbai, asks Pakistan to act (Roundup)

December 14th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownNew Delhi/Islamabad, Dec 14 (IANS) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Sunday blamed Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba for the Mumbai savagery and told Islamabad that the “time has come for action” against terrorists.Making an unscheduled visit to India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, Brown underlined in New Delhi that “three-fourth of the terror plots” probed by his country had links to Al Qaeda as well as Pakistan. Brown later flew to Islamabad.

Brown’s stress on tough action came as Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari assured that his government was ready to “do more” once India completes its investigation into the Mumbai attacks and shares the information with his administration.

However, India remained unconvinced.

Addressing an election rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s Khandroo town, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India wanted “to normalise relations with Pakistan” but asked Islamabad to do more to address New Delhi’s concerns on cross-border terror.

“There are some people in Pakistan who are always trying to launch such attacks,” the prime minister said.

Brown met Manmohan Singh and Zardari in New Delhi and Islamabad respectively and offered them help to combat terror and sought permission for the British police to question suspects arrested in both countries in connection with the Nov 26 Mumbai killings.

Terrorists who India says came from Pakistan slaughtered over 170 people from Nov 26 to 29. The dead included 26 foreigners, including a Briton and two people with dual British-Indian nationality. Pakistan has denied its involvement in the Mumbai massacre. It has even challenged Indian claims that the only terrorist caught alive in Mumbai is a Pakistani national.

Intensifying international pressure on Pakistan to act against terror outfits in that country, Brown backed India’s accusation saying Britain knows that the Lashkar was to blame for the Mumbai attacks and stressed that Islamabad had “a great deal to answer for.”

“The group responsible for the attacks is LeT and they have a great deal to answer for, and I hope to convey some of the views of the Indian prime minister to the president of Pakistan,” Brown told select journalists in New Delhi.

He was asked if Pakistan was doing enough to crack down on terrorist groups ranged against India.

“We know that some arrests have been made and some people have been held even as we speak,” said Brown, minutes before flying to Pakistan.

In his talks with Manmohan Singh, Brown underlined global solidarity with India and offered help with forensic investigation as well as assistance to improve airport security.

He said Britain would be happy to cooperate with India to deal with security issues at major sporting events like the Commonwealth Games due in New Delhi in 2010. London holds the Olympics in 2012.

In a pointed message aimed at Pakistan, Brown stressed that the international community had to ensure that there were “no safe havens for terrorists and no hiding places for those who finance terror attacks”.

Later, Brown conveyed the same message to Zardari and his aides in Islamabad.

Offering a new “pact against terror” to Islamabad, Brown announced a 6 million pound grant for Pakistan to fight mounting radicalization and told his interlocutors that “three-quarters of the most serious terrorist plots investigated by the British authorities have links to Al Qaeda in Pakistan”.

“The time has come for action, not words,” Brown said at a joint press conference with Zardari in Islamabad.

Brown said that it was up to India and Pakistan how they investigated the problem but there “is a need for cooperation between both the countries”.

Brown offered to expand the counter-terrorism assistance programme to Pakistan to include assistance with bomb disposal, bomb scanning equipment and airport security.

He added that Zardari had assured him he would take further action to clamp down on militants linked to the Mumbai attacks.

Brown’s visit came on a day Pakistan charged that Indian warplanes had violated its airspace, a claim which New Delhi quickly denied. Zardari called it a technical intrusion and said the Indian aircraft had “slightly entered” the Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan continued to deny any link with the Mumbai terrorists.

“What I know is India is investigating the attacks and will share information after they have completed the investigation,” Zardari said to a question if his government would take action against people involved in the Mumbai killings.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated that India had provided no proof that the arrested terrorist, Mohammed Amir Ajmal, or any of his nine colleagues killed were Pakistanis.

“We are not denying it, we are not accepting it. If you (India) have any evidence, share this evidence with us”, he said.

Qureshi has also clarified that the welfare projects run by Jamaat-ud Dawa, including hospitals, dispensaries and schools, would not be shut down.

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