Turning up diplomatic pressure on Islamabad, India has demanded strong action against those Pakistani elements responsible for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Vivek Katju, special secretary in the MEA, conveyed this to the Pakistani High Commissioner Shahid Malik, who was “called” to the South Block on Monday.
“The High Commissioner of Pakistan was called to the Ministry of External Affairs this (Monday) evening. He was informed that the recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was carried out by elements from Pakistan. Government expects that strong action would be taken against those elements, whosoever they may be, responsible for this outrage,” an official statement said.
“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 statement added.
However, a Pakistani diplomat told the HT that Monday’s meeting was part of “regular interactions” between India and Pakistan. “This meeting was to keep the channels of communication open,” the diplomat, who preferred anonymity, said.
“We have offered our cooperation to India. We are prepared to cooperate with India. The High Commissioner expressed his distress to Indian officials,” the diplomat added.
In a related development, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told AFP, “What has happened is a grave setback to the process of normalisation of relations and the confidence-building measures with Pakistan. These gunmen were all from Pakistan.”
And, in what appeared to be a clear indication that Pakistan was aware that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba was behind the Mumbai terrorist attack, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told the Financial Times that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the neighbours.
“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Zardari.
“We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated 9/11 (attacks on the US) or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq,” said Zardari.
“Now, events in Mumbai tell us that there are ongoing efforts to carry out copycat attacks by militants. We must all stand together to fight out this menace.”
The Associated Press quoted Zardari telling a news channel that, “Such a tragic incident must bring opportunity rather than the defeat of a nation. We don’t think the world’s great nations and countries can be held hostage by non-state actors.”
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been asked by President George W. Bush to travel to India. Rice is scheduled to arrive here on Wednesday. “What we are emphasising to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads and to do so in the most committed and firmest possible way,” Rice said.
“It is important that there would be the highest levels of cooperation between India and Pakistan at this point. We share the grief and anger of the Indian people. But of course Americans were also killed and they were killed deliberately and that makes this of special interest and concern to the US,” Rice added.