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Mumbai Heat
We are weighing all options: Pranab
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
India is weighing all options, including striking at terrorist camps in Pakistan, even as it mounts pressure on Islamabad to act strongly against ‘jehadi’ groups that have been enjoying safe sanctuaries in the neighbouring country and are carrying out attacks on the Indian soil.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statements during the day made it quite clear that New Delhi was considering a tough line of action against Pakistan while the fragile composite dialogue process between the two countries flounders.

In an interview to a television news channel, Mukherjee said India had “every right to protect its territorial integrity and would take appropriate action” to deal with terror strikes emanating from Pakistan.

“What I am saying is every sovereign country has its right to protect its territorial integrity and take appropriate action as and when it feels it is necessary to take that appropriate action,” he said.

However, earlier in the day, Mukherjee had stated that nobody was talking about military action. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function to inaugurate the India-Arab Forum, he said India was awaiting Pakistan’s response to its demand for strong action against militants based on its territory. New Delhi would await the response from Pakistan to the demarche (formal protest note) served on Islamabad yesterday.

The external affairs ministry had yesterday summoned Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and handed over to him a list of more than 20 of India’s most wanted men, who are living in Pakistan and are wanted in India for committing or masterminding heinous crimes inside the Indian territory.

“We have in our demarche asked for the arrests and handing over of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitives under the Indian law,” Mukherjee added.

His statement came a day before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives here to meet the Indian leadership and discuss how Washington could cooperate with New Delhi in bringing to book those who masterminded the audacious attacks in Mumbai.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the presence of Indian fugitives on its soil despite New Delhi providing solid evidence to Islamabad. The list of 20 terrorists includes the names of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafez Mohammed Sayeed.

Asked about US President-elect Barack Obama’s statement that India has the right to protect itself, the Indian foreign minister said: “What will be done, time will show and you will come to know.”

When pointed out that his remarks could be misinterpreted as military action, Mukherjee said there was no room for misinterpretation as nobody was talking of such a move. Pakistan, meanwhile, denied any link with the Mumbai blasts but offered a joint team to investigate the terror attacks. “The government of Pakistan has offered a joint investigating mechanism and a joint commission to India,” foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a nationwide telecast in Islamabad.

“We are ready to jointly go into the depth of this issue and we are ready to compose a team that could help you,” Qureshi added.

Coast Guard seize Pak fishing boat

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Coast Guard today seized a Pakistani fishing boat off the Jakhao coast near Kutch and took into custody seven people in the boat. “We have taken into custody a Pakistani fishing boat off the Jakhao coast. There were seven crew members in the boat. We have handed over the boat to the local police for investigation,” Coast Guard officials said. — PTI



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