India’s diplomatic offensive was on full swing on Friday, a day that also saw it issuing a travel advisory to citizens planning to visit Pakistan.
Taking cognisance of reports that four Indian nationals had been arrested in connection with the bomb blast in Lahore on Wednesday, the government issued a statement saying, “Indian citizens are advised that it would be unsafe for them to travel or be in Pakistan”. Vishnu Prakash, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said, “since it has also been reported in the Pakistani media that the senior police officer in Lahore was unaware of the arrest in his city, it seems that this is the work of other agencies in Pakistan that operate outside the law and civilian control.”
PTI said it was the first advisory since 1971 war.
Stepping up the diplomatic offensive to mount international pressure on Islamabad, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday spoke over phone to foreign ministers of China, Iran and the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
He also held talks with Prince Saud al-Faisal, the visiting Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia. Sources said that Mukherjee has asked China and Saudi Arabia, close allies of Pakistan, and the United States to step up pressure to ensure that those responsible for the Mumbai attacks were brought to book.
“My request to friends in Pakistan would be (that) instead of diverting attention from the real issue, they should concentrate on how to fight against terrorists and how to bring to book the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack,” Mukherjee said after his talks with al-Faisal.
Saudi Arabia, informed al-Faisal, has proposed to the United Nations to create a special body representing the international community to jointly fight the menace of terrorism.
Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher said that New Delhi and Washington were in the process of putting in place “a new kind of cooperation” to prevent Mumbai-like attacks in the future. But he reiterated the task in hand saying “the immediate focus is to get on to the groups responsible for the ghastly Mumbai terror attacks and eliminate them”.