Hinting at the Pakistani establishment's backing to terrorists who struck in Mumbai, India today said such strikes could be carried out with impunity only when the safety of the "handlers" of attackers has been assured.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the lone terrorist, who was caught alive during the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26, has given to investigators a "chilling accounts of his handlers."
"The impunity with which these attacks are carried out is possible only because of the safety the handlers have been assured," he said addressing a conference in New Delhi.
Mukherjee said the attack on Mumbai was "cold and calculated murder" and the death of innocent people there were "not accidental or unintended as is sometimes referred to as collateral damage."
Seeking to nail Pakistan's denial that perpetrators of Mumbai attacks were elements of that country, Mukherjee said "the faces of terrorists have been seen across the globe."
While talking about the Mumbai strikes, he also referred to a similar attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul in July.
In an obvious reference to the clout of Pakistan military vis-a-vis democracy in that country, he said genuine democracy does not come about simply by holding an election but rather through a process of democratisation that makes elected representatives accountable and also ensuring that there is no "de facto centre of power" that is actually "pulling the puppet strings."
"The pretence of democracy is not equivalent to democratisation," Mukherjee said.
India would not like to advocate how other countries should be governed but would certainly like to know "whom we should deal with vis-a-vis another government; in other words, who runs the show?"
Mukherjee's remarks come at a time when Pakistan is doing a flip-flop on the origin of the attackers who carried out the terror strikes in Mumbai.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had earlier admitted that the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage could be 'non-state' actors of his country but later said there is still no "real evidence" that the terrorists came from his country.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said the village of Ajmal Amir Iman alias Ajmal Kasab, who was caught alive in Mumbai, was cordoned off and his parents were not allowed to meet anyone.
Pakistani security agencies and local officials in Faridkot have launched a cover-up since India made it public that Kasab belonged to the village in Punjab province and his father acknowledged to a Pakistani newspaper that the gunman captured in India was his son.
Zardari had earlier agreed to send ISI chief Shuja Pasha to India to help in investigating the Mumbai attackers but later backtracked claiming that the agreement was to send a Director-level official and not the Director General of the spy agency.