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Two months on, India again asks Pakistan to act against terror

India wants Pakistan to dismantle terror infrastructure, take strong action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks and find fugitives from Indian law, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2009 19:56 IST

India wants Pakistan to dismantle terror infrastructure, take strong action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks and find fugitives from Indian law, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

"[There are] three major things - dismantle the infrastructural facilities, take strong actions against the perpetrators of terror attacks and look for the fugitives of the Indian law who have committed crime here and have taken shelter there," Mukherjee said in his first interview to the Al Jazeera English, the Arab world's leading news channel that is widely watched the world over.

"We expect Pakistan to act. Whatever is to be done from our side we are doing so... but Pakistan is to act because the handlers and the planners were from Pakistan. Therefore, we expect Pakistan authorities to fulfil their commitments," he stressed.

"Every country is responsible to protect its territory, to protect its citizens and also to ensure that their territory is not misused by miscreants to cause trouble in the neighbouring countries," Mukherjee told Riaz Khan, celebrity anchor who left CNN to join Al Jazeera English news TV.

Pakistan has done numerous flip-flops after the Mumbai attacks and, according to India, has yet to take action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, however, said Tuesday that his country will later this week respond to India's dossier that sought to link Pakistan-based militants with the Mumbai terror attacks.

The minister said that the US' hopes of combating a simmering Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan "cannot be de-linked" with the situation in Pakistan and underlined that India considered Pakistan's cooperation and involvement "necessary" to resolve the crisis.

"Of course, the terror problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan are emanating mainly from the same areas - the border areas," he said.

The minister admitted that there had been "substantial improvement [in relations with Pakistan]," but emphasised that the real issue was the problem of terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country.

"The issue is not the India-Pakistan relationship... the issue is how to tackle the problem of terrorism, how to tackle the problem of terrorism emanating from Pakistan. The elements which are operating from Pakistan and how to eliminate those elements," he said.

The minister underlined that although India "is one of the worst victims of terrorism for almost two decades", the Nov 26 Mumbai attack was "unprecedented".

"...the depth... of the sense of outrage is enormous all over India and not merely in Mumbai," he reiterated over two months after the Mumbai attacks that killed more than 170 people, including 26 foreigners.

"Yes, one way you can make a differentiation that they are deliberately doing or that they are incapable of doing, but as far as India is concerned, the net impact is the same...," Mukherjee replied when asked whether Pakistan was doing enough to catch those responsible for the attack.

"Whether somebody is capable or not capable, the impact is that the perpetrators of the terror attack... are launching terror attacks from the territory of Pakistan," Mukherjee stressed.

He also vehemently repudiated the suggestion that the Kashmir issue was the root cause of terrorism targeting India and asserted that terrorism and Kashmir are two separate issues.

"Kashmir is an integral part of India like any other province or state of India. If somebody believes that Kashmir is not a part of India, I am afraid no Indian is going to accept it," he said while underlining that it was a bilateral issue the two countries are trying to resolve through dialogue.

Mukherjee's interview to Al Jazeera is part of India's efforts to influence public opinion in the Arab world in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.

Sections of the Arab media have tended to echo Pakistan's line on the Mumbai terror attacks without adequately highlighting India's position.

New Delhi had conveyed its disappointment about the depiction of the Mumbai attacks in the Arab media to the visiting Saudi foreign minister last month.

The Arabic Al Jazeerachannel rivals the BBC in worldwide audiences with an estimated 40 to 50 million viewers. Al Jazeera English has an estimated reach of around 100 million households.

Al Jazeera is trying to enter India as well, but its application for downlinking is still awaiting a security clearance from the home ministry.

First Published: Jan 28, 2009 19:31 IST