Outrage over the November 26 terror attack in Mumbai that left at least 164 people dead and over 300 injured, brought India’s feuding political classes together in Parliament on Thursday.
Cutting across party lines, politicians mounted a scathing attack on Pakistan with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP’s L.K. Advani calling it the “epicentre of terrorism”.
In a parliamentary resolution that capped the daylong discussion in both Houses, Parliament condemned the “attacks in Mumbai by terrorist elements from Pakistan” and committed to ceaselessly work towards exposing and punishing the terrorists and those who train, fund and abet them.
“This House expresses its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous terrorist attacks in Mumbai by terrorist elements from Pakistan…Notes that this outrage follows acts of terror committed since the beginning of this year,” the resolution said, authorising the government to “take further measures” to safeguard national security.
MPs — irrespective of their political affiliation — minced no words. “Pakistan should realise that it is creating problems for itself too by infiltrating terrorists into India,“ said Mohammed Salim of the CPM.
The PM, who apologised to the people of Mumbai for not being able to prevent the attack, articulated similar sentiments, saying India could not be satisfied with mere assurances. He demanded dismantling of the terror infrastructure in Pakistan.
Singh, whose statement came at the end of speeches by political leaders seeking action against Pakistan — some MPs suggested counter-attacks — said India had exercised “the utmost restraint so far” but made it clear that this should not be “misconstrued” as a sign of weakness.
The resolution came after a seven-hour discussion that saw Union Home Minister P Chidambaram identifying the lapses — lack of coordination among intelligence agencies and bureaucratic red tape —responsible for the attacks and promising to take decisions promptly and courageously.
“Wherever there are lapses, we will take action,” he told the House during the discussion on the attacks that came on the eve of the seventh anniversary of another audacious attack on Parliament in 2001.
Chidambaram’s plain speak — who opened the discussion with an assurance of “hard decision” to prepare the country to face the challenges of terrorism — was greeted by a matching response from L.K. Advani, Leader of Opposition, who steered clear of politics and promised to back the government to take all “stern decisions”.