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PM plans to talk 'tough' with Aziz

PM may do some 'plain speaking' with his Pak counterpart.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2005 14:02 IST
YP Rajesh (Reuters)
YP Rajesh (Reuters)

Anger is mounting in India over bomb attacks in New Delhi a week ago that have been blamed on terrorists based in Pakistan, further hampering New Delhi's slow-moving peace talks with Islamabad.

Sixty per cent of Indians polled in a mobile phone text survey last week said New Delhi should call off the talks.

While India is not expected to take such a drastic step, the outrage sparked by the blasts will force Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do some plain speaking during talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz this week, officials and analysts said.

Singh and Aziz are due to meet on the sidelines of a November 12-13 South Asian Summit in Dhaka.

At least 59 people were killed and over 200 wounded in the simultaneous bomb blasts in crowded Delhi markets on October 30. Singh has said there were indications the bombers were linked to Pakistan and reminded Islamabad of its promise to curb anti-India terrorists based there.

"After the Delhi blasts, I think it would be fair for us to expect that they should now deliver on their promise," said C Uday Bhaskar of New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

"We've had enough rhetoric on the subject from Pakistan. Now we need to see how Pakistan would be able to match deed with word," he said.

On Saturday, India's foreign ministry said it was opening only one border crossing on Monday between the two countries in disputed Kashmir to provide relief to earthquake victims instead of five as planned. Two more will be opened later in the week.

Indian authorities said mines needed to be removed from the heavily militarised border and landslides cleared.

There was no sign that the decision was linked to any disquiet over the bombs in India but it came as a blow to hopes that the old enemies could show some cooperation in helping victims of the deadly October 8 earthquake, which devastated Kashmir on both sides of the border and Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Tough choice for Musharraf?

President Pervez Musharraf's promise to curb all Pakistan-based terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi's pledge to negotiate the territorial dispute were central to the progress of the peace process.

The Kashmiri group which claimed last month's Delhi blasts, Islami Inqilabi Mahaz, is a front for outlawed, Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, experts say.

The claim, along with increasing indications that no other terrorist group had the capability to carry out such an attack -- despite Islamabad's pledge nearly two years ago to crack down on them -- has forced even moderates in New Delhi to harden positions.

But cracking down on Islamist groups in Pakistan, and their collaborators in the establishment, if any, is likely to be easier said than done for Musharraf.

Terrorists and their affiliates, including the Jamat-ud-Dawa, the charity arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba, have been actively involved in relief work after last month's earthquake centred in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which killed more than 73,000 people.

At the Dhaka meeting, Pakistani Prime Minister Aziz is likely to reassure Singh that Islamabad would cooperate in investigating the Delhi blasts, Pakistani analysts said.

"He will again convey Pakistan's readiness to cooperate in investigations," said retired Pakistani general Talat Masood. "But without any substantial evidence, then naturally India cannot ask Pakistan to do this and that."

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider in Islamabad)

First Published: Nov 09, 2005 14:02 IST