The US promised on Thursday that it would “work very closely” with India to get to the bottom of what happened in Mumbai and help New Delhi “act” on those findings.
<b1>US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, pointed out that non-state actors operating from Pakistani territory were very much Islamabad’s responsibility. “Non-state actors perform from the confines of the state. There has to be direct and tough action (by Islamabad),” she said on Wednesday.
Rice, who will be in Islamabad on Thursday, has been specially sent by US President George W Bush to ease tensions in the region. Her comments assume significance in view of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks that the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror were “stateless actors”.
At the same time, Rice warned of unintended consequences of any future response by India to the Mumbai strikes.
Mukherjee, on his part, said there was “no doubt the terrorist attacks were perpetrated by individuals from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan. This is an assessment that is widely shared by the international community,” he said.
“I believe there is a design behind the attacks in the country in the past few months. Terrorists have targeted Jaipur, an important tourist destination. Then it was the national capital, the financial capital and Bangalore, a science and technology hub. The design has been to strike at the developmental, science and economic ability of the country. The attacks are not sporadic or coincidental,” he said.
“The government is determined to act decisively to protect Indian territorial integrity and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all the means at our disposal,” he said.
Rice reiterated that the US expected all responsible governments to help with the investigation and that Pakistan had a special responsibility to do so and “to do so transparently, urgently and fully”. Asked if the Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, she said, “Let me be very clear: We are not saying Al-Qaeda is the perpetrator here. There are elements of this — the sophistication of it — that remind us these extremists... that they are perhaps learning from each other, they move in the same circles.”
Earlier, addressing the media, Rice said the attacks were clearly targeted to send a message about India, about its integration into the world. She repeatedly stressed that the immediate priority was to prevent another terrorist strike. “The number one need is to try and prevent another attack, because after 9/11 we know there are people plotting and planning every day to try to bring another successful attack.”