/ 19 January 2009

India keeps pressure on Pakistan over Mumbai

India’s foreign minister said on Monday that countries failing to clamp down on terrorism would pay a ”heavy price”, as New Delhi kept pressure on Pakistan to act against militants blamed for the Mumbai attacks.

”Countries found wanting in their commitment to zero tolerance of terrorism will be made to pay a heavy price by the international community,” Pranab Mukherjee told a conference in India’s capital.

”Our diplomatic efforts in dealing with terrorist states will continue unabated.”

Tension has run high between the two nuclear-armed rivals since the attacks that killed 179 people. India has blamed them on the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Mukherjee’s latest statement came a day before Barack Obama takes office as the new United States president.

Indian officials are frustrated at what they see as Pakistan’s slowness at arresting the attack’s planners. They want the new US administration to press Islamabad to act on a dossier of evidence presented this month by New Delhi.

Despite the tension, the chance of military confrontation between the rivals, which have fought three wars since 1947, is low, thanks in part to the diplomacy of the US and other powers, according to analysts.

While Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the attacks must have had the support of official agencies within Pakistan, the US and its allies have stepped back from blaming the Pakistan government.

‘Good news in two weeks’
The sense that India may not have the full support of the West was highlighted at the weekend.

Indian media criticised British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said on a visit to New Delhi that India needed to resolve the issue of disputed Kashmir as part of a wider strategy to improve relations with Pakistan after the attacks.

New Delhi sees the issue of Kashmir, ruled in part but claimed as a whole by both India and Pakistan, as irrelevant to the Mumbai raid.

Pakistan condemned the Mumbai attack from the outset and denied involvement of any of its agencies. It has offered to cooperate with India by sending over a security official and setting up a joint team to investigate.

India has not accepted the offers.

In Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the government’s top Interior Ministry official, Rehman Malik, briefed foreign diplomats on Pakistani efforts since the attack.

Malik set a 10-day deadline on the weekend for an investigating team to complete a report and on Monday promised ”good news in two weeks”, said a Western diplomat who attended the meeting.

The Pakistani officials had also indicated a desire for direct interaction with India in the investigation, he said.

”Both were stressing that the original Pakistani offer, both of investigation through a joint commission and, or, a high-level visit were still very much on the table,” said the diplomat.

Pakistan has detained scores of members of the LeT and an affiliated Islamic charity, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, but India is demanding it dismantle what it calls the ”infrastructure of terrorism”.

Pakistan has been angered by the Indian suggestion that Pakistani state agencies were involved and what it sees as repeated Indian hints of military action. — Reuters