M A I N   N E W S

Mumbai Terror
Pak has not done enough: PM
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says Pakistan has not done enough to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, and when asked in an interview whether he believes he has a partner for peace in Islamabad, he replied that he was unsure.

Singh said his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had assured him at their meeting in Sharm el Sheik in July that Pakistan will do everything possible to bring the Mumbai masterminds to book; but, he added, "It's our feeling that Pakistan has not done enough." He noted that Hafeez Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba which is thought to be behind the attacks in Mumbai, is "roaming around free."

In an interview with Mumbai-born CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Singh said, "A friendly Pakistan, a government in Pakistan which would be equally determined to tackle terrorism would, I think, take the case to its logical conclusions. But that has not happened." Singh's remarks come at the start of his visit to Washington and on the eve of the first anniversary of the Mumbai attacks.

The Prime Minister's comments set the tone for his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday. While he shared a close relationship with former President George W. Bush, Singh said he had no apprehension that India's relations with the United States would suffer in any way because of the change of administration in Washington. His complaints about Pakistan are likely to fall on sympathetic ears in Washington as administration officials have recently expressed growing frustration over Pakistan's lack of action against the Quetta shura that has been targeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Singh said he fears that Pakistan's objectives are "not necessarily in harmony with the U.S. objectives" and was not certain the Pakistani army would take on terrorists that target India, Afghanistan and the West." Pakistan sometimes feels that the Americans are short-term maximizers, that if the pressure continued, they will not have the courage to stay put, they will walk away, and that Afghanistan will become a natural backyard for Pakistan to influence its policies and programmes,” he said. The comments come at a time Obama is considering sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

While Pakistan frequently cites history to prop up its worry that the U.S. will abandon Afghanistan, last week Gilani expressed concern that more U.S. troops in Afghanistan would push terrorists into Pakistan.

Asked by Zakaria whether he thought Pakistan wants an Afghanistan that is a Pakistani puppet, Singh replied: “Yes, I think that is — that appears to me.”

Citing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recent chastisement of Pakistani leaders over the whereabouts of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, Singh added, “[Their whereabouts] can not be unknown to the people in Pakistan.”

Singh said he believed the Pakistani army is at present the most important force in Pakistan. “We would like democracy to succeed and flourish in Pakistan. But we have to recognise that the power today rests virtually with the army,” he added. Asked if he felt he had a partner in Pakistan with whom he can negotiate, he replied, “I don’t know whether we have a partner right now.” He recalled Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s words to him when the Army chief was at the helm in Islamabad: “Well, I am the army. I represent the armed forces. I represent the people.”

“Now,” Singh said, “I don’t know who to deal with.”

He said he had been assured by the U.S. that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would not fall into the hands of either some radical elements within the army or terrorists.

On the question of resolving the Kashmir issue, Singh said there could be no redrawing of borders, but India and Pakistan can “work together to ensure that these are borders of peace.”

The Obama administration’s preoccupation with nuclear nonproliferation has prompted questions in India about a U.S. commitment to the civilian nuclear deal. In his interview, Singh reiterated India’s “impeccable record” on nonproliferation and said India requires “greater consideration of the global community.”

The U.S. Senate, meanwhile, followed in the footsteps of the House of Representatives by adopting a resolution welcoming Singh to Washington.



PM woos US investors
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday assured a group of US businesspersons here that India was committed to economic reforms.

Speaking at the US-India Business Council, Singh said he was often asked whether these reforms would continue.

“You should have no doubt on that score,” he said.

“The economic reforms of the past have brought us advantages and I can assure you that we will continue down the road,” he said.

“A strategic relationship that is not underpinned by a strong economic relationship is unlikely to prosper,” he said. He added, “A web of economic relationships intensifies both business-to-business and people-to-people contacts, promoting deeper and better understanding between countries. That is the kind of relationship we want with the US.”

Singh acknowledged the role of US business in the economic transformation of India, and also pointed out this partnership has been a two-way relationship.

Indian companies in sectors ranging from auto components, tractors, pharmaceuticals and software have been investing in the US and creating thousands of jobs, he said.

Singh described the civilian nuclear deal as a landmark in US-India relations, and made special reference to the role of US businesses in persuading the Congress to back the initiative.

The US and India are working to finalise details to make the deal fully operational. Once that is done, Singh observed, “It will remove restrictions on the flow of technology in nuclear and many other areas. This will open a large area of commercial opportunities for US businesses also.”

The PM said India had looked into the possibility of procurement of defence equipment from the US.

Singh said he and US President Barack Obama would sign a memorandum of understanding on energy security, clean energy and climate change when they meet at the White House on Tuesday. “This will provide a framework for pursuing bilateral cooperation in specific areas,” he said.

Singh noted the financial crisis gripping the global economy has had its fallout on US-India relations.

Earlier, in an interview with CNN, Singh expressed confidence in the primacy of the dollar and described the economic downturn in the US a “temporary setback”.
He acknowledged that there’s a “temporary questioning about the relevance of the American model. But I have seen these things much before”.



Karkare’s wife wants Kasab hanged
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
Kavita Karkare, widow of former ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who was killed during the Mumbai terror attack, called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi today and demanded that Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during 26/11, be hanged.

Smita Salaskar, wife of encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, who also died during the terror strike, accompanied Kavita. The two women also apprised Sonia of problems following the death of their husbands.

“All victims and families of martyrs feel that Kasab should be hanged,” said Kavita. The hour-long meeting comes three days before the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks. Both Karkare and Salaskar died while fighting terrorists near Cama Hospital.

After meeting the Congress president, Kavita said: “We have got assurance from her (Sonia Gandhi). She has been very supportive and emotional throughout the meeting. We have discussed problems being faced by martyrs’ families.” However, she declined to give details of the meeting.

When asked to comment on her husband’s lost bulletproof jacket, she said, “Jackets have disappeared. This is true. It should not happen again to anyone”.



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