Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Delhi blasts a reminder of Islamic terrorists' obstinance


Indian analysts said on Sunday the blasts that killed at least 62 people in New Delhi were a blunt message from Islamist guerrillas in Pakistan that the Kashmir earthquake had not put them out of commission.

"It is a calling card from terrorists in [Pakistan-administered] Kashmir that while the earthquake may have killed 54,000 civilians and 2,000 or 3,000 guerrillas, they are very much in business," said Kapil Kak, director of the independent Institute of Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Kak blamed Saturday's three blasts on the Lashkar-e-Taiba guerrilla group which is fighting Indian forces in disputed Kashmir, the scenic Himalayan region which bore the brunt of the Oct. 8 quake.

"The Jamat-ud-Dawa is the political arm of Lashkar and it has emerged as a major element in extending relief to the quake victims and hence getting greater legitimacy in Pakistani Kashmir," Kak said.

"Lashkar, too, wants its presence felt," he said.

The blasts, in busy marketplaces and a bus, came hours before India and Pakistan announced plans to set up five relief centers at their militarized ceasefire line in divided Kashmir to help speed aid to quake victims.

A.K. Verma, a former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's powerful external intelligence agency, warned of more possible attacks.

"This is a continuing manifestation of a continued program chalked out by Islamist ideologues who believe they must establish Islamic dominance where large Muslim populations live, which includes South Asia," he said.

"They want to convey a message -- and this conflict they are imposing on others is going to be very durable," he said.

"I think [it] is increasing in strength if one sees the attacks ranging from Bali in Indonesia to the metro bombings in London" in July, Verma said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed "terrorists" for the attacks.

"I condemn the cynical and premeditated attacks on innocent people. These are dastardly acts of terrorism aimed at the people of India," Singh said.

"These terrorists wish to spread a sense of fear and suspicion among peace loving people. The blasts have been timed to create disaffection during the festive season," he said.

The Pakistani government expressed its condolences and denounced the attacks as "criminal."

S.D. Muni, a strategic affairs expert at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the peace process between the South Asian rivals has not gone down well with hardline elements in the ruling establishment in Islamabad.

"We don't think the either the intelligence agencies or the militant establishment in Pakistan has been zapped by the massive earthquake which has caused untold suffering to millions of people," Muni said.

"They are working in [Pakistan-administered] Kashmir and re-creating the cells," said Muni, who added that he himself had only narrowly missed the blast in the middle-class Sarojini Nagar market.

"These are the elements who want to vitiate the Indo-Pak initiatives -- which is an irony, as on one hand the two sides are making peace overtures while on the sidelines, part of the Pakistani establishment is bent on derailing this process," Muni said.

Mainly Muslim Kashmir was divided between Pakistan and India after the bloody partition of the sub-continent following independence in 1947. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

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