M A I N   N E W S

Mumbai Heat
Act now, Rice tells Pak
Rice also warned India not to take action that
would provoke ‘unintended consequences’
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
Turning the heat on Pakistan, the United States today firmly asked Islamabad to cooperate ‘fully and transparently’ with India in bringing to book the perpetrators of the ghastly attack on Mumbai even if they were ‘non-state actors’.

However, the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — who paid a flying visit to the Indian capital to express solidarity with the people of India in wake of the audacious terror strikes which left nearly 200 people, including six Americans, killed — advised India to exercise restraint, cautioning that any move to strike at terrorist camps across the border could have “unintended consequences”.

“Any response needs to be judged by its effectiveness and by not creating other unintended consequences,” Rice said at a joint press conference with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, while replying to a query that why India should not destroy terrorist camps across the border.

During the course of the day, she also met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and Home Minister P. Chidamabaram. Rice will leave for Islamabad tomorrow to convey Washington’s stern message to the civilian government that Pakistan has a central responsibility to ensure that terrorists were not able to operate from its territory.

Official sources said Mukherjee shared with Rice solid evidence in possession of the Indian authorities, suggesting the involvement of the elements in Pakistan, particularly the Lashkar-e-Toiba, in the Mumbai attacks. She was also told that the evidence had been shared with the Pakistani authorities and the international community now must put pressure on Islamabad to deal firmly with terrorist groups operating from the Pakistani soil.

Mukherjee is also understood to have told the US Secretary of State that India had asked Islamabad to hand over more than 20 top terrorists, who are wanted in this country for criminal acts and continue to enjoy the hospitality of Pakistan.

Later, addressing a joint press conference, Mukherjee made it clear that New Delhi was awaiting a formal Pakistani response to the list of ‘India’s Most Wanted’ given to Islamabad. “We have given them (Pakistan) a de-marche…we are waiting for their response. Once we receive their response, the government will do what is necessary to protect our people.”

Mukherjee pointed out that there was a design in terrorist strikes in major Indian cities in recent months. “They struck at Jaipur, because it is a tourist destination, Delhi, because it is the Indian capital, Mumbai, because it is the commercial capital and Bangalore, because it is the scientific hub…they want to strike at the developmental, economic and scientific ability of India.”

Rice, noting that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has pledged to provide full cooperation in investigations into the attacks, said Islamabad must also take strong action against ‘non-state actors’ who could have perpetrated the attacks.

Talking in a tough tone, Mukherjee said India expected the international community to realise the gravity of the situation and help New Delhi in bringing to book those who masterminded the attacks. “The Indian government is determined to act decisively to protect the country’s territorial integrity and ensure a peaceful life for our people with all the means at our command.”

Asked if Al-Qaida could be behind the Mumbai attacks, Rice said she could not say with certainty whether the group was behind it but this was clearly the kind of terrorism in which it participated.



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