Mere information, and not credible evidence, had been provided by India to Pakistan on the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir claimed on Tuesday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that 26/11 “must” have had the support of Pakistan’s “official agencies”.
Bashir’s remarks, which came a day after India passed on “material” linking 26/11 to “elements in Pakistan”, seem to have dashed hopes of any meaningful cooperation from Islamabad in probing the attacks.
Pakistan, the foreign secretary said in Islamabad, needed credible evidence to proceed with the investigation into 26/11.
In New Delhi, a tough-talking Singh launched a verbal volley at Pakistan while addressing the chief ministers’ conference on internal security, blaming Islamabad and its intelligence agencies for fomenting terror in India.
“The more fragile a government, the more it tends to act in an irresponsible fashion. Pakistan’s responses to our various demarches on terrorist attacks is an obvious example,” Singh said in his comments, which drew an equally high-decibel response from Islamabad.
Charging Pakistan with whipping up “war hysteria”, Singh said: “Terrorism…is largely sponsored from outside our country, mainly Pakistan, which has utilised terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”
In a sharp riposte, the Pakistani foreign office accused India of launching a “propaganda offensive”, which will “ratchet up tensions” and “destroy all prospects of serious and objective investigations” into the Mumbai attacks.
“Vilifying Pakistan…is unwarranted and unacceptable…this is a sure way to close avenues of cooperating in combating this menace (of terrorism),” Islamabad said. “Pakistan has suffered more terror attacks than India. But we have not lost our equanimity,” the foreign office said, stressing that Pakistan was “not a state sponsor of terrorism”.
“Our civilian and armed forces’ casualties over the past year have been far more than that of India,” it said, suggesting that Pakistan was a “bigger victim” of terrorism than India.
“The Government of Pakistan expects the Government of India to demonstrate restraint and responsibility…it must also take steps to de-escalate its offensive military posture against Pakistan,” the foreign office said.
A return to the war of words came amid reports of a possible visit by US Vice-President-elect Joe Biden to “South-West Asia” in his capacity as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee.
A South Block official in New Delhi neither confirmed nor denied the reports that Biden, who is set to visit Pakistan, would come to India too.
India, meanwhile, continued its initiative to brief diplomats, with officials presenting New Delhi’s case on 26/11 to the envoys of about 80 countries.
Several envoys Hindustan Times spoke to felt that India had presented a credible case linking 26/11 to the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and its support base in Pakistan.