Wed, Dec 24, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Add pressure on Pakistan: India

DEAL WITH IT Asked if it would consider a military response to last month’s attack in Mumbai, the Indian government said it would ‘explore all options’ to push Pakistan

AFP , NEW DELHI

India on Monday said the pressure put on Pakistan by world leaders over last month’s attacks on Mumbai was inadequate and handed over a letter allegedly written by a surviving gunman to Islamabad.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said Pakistan’s acting High Commissioner Afrasiab Mehdi Hashmi was summoned to the ministry and given the letter purportedly written by Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman.

“In his letter to the Pakistan High Commission, Iman has stated he and the [nine] terrorists killed in the attack were from Pakistan and he has sought a meeting with the Pakistan high commission,” Prakash said.

A ministry official who did not want to be named said a photocopy of Iman’s original letter had been handed over, adding the gunmen has sought legal aid.

“The letter urges Pakistan to provide him such assistance,” he said. Indian lawyers have refused to represent Iman in court.

In Islamabad, the foreign ministry confirmed that the letter had been forwarded to Pakistan’s high commission in New Delhi. It said the suspect claimed in the letter to be a Pakistani, and had asked for legal assistance as well as a meeting with Pakistani officials in India.

“The contents of the letter are being examined,” it said in a brief statement.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee meanwhile demanded more results from US-led efforts to force Pakistan to co-operate with the probe into the attacks, which India blames on Pakistan-based guerrillas.

“There has been some effort so far by the international community but this is not enough,” Mukherjee told a meeting of India’s ambassadors called to New Delhi to discuss the Nov. 26 carnage.

Asked whether a military response to the attacks was being considered, he said India would “explore all options” to push Pakistan on its promise to crack down on cross-border terrorism.

Mukherjee said India had “so far acted with utmost restraint” after gunmen killed 163 people in Mumbai — but he added that it could not afford to stand back and rely on others to tackle nuclear rival Pakistan.

“While we continue to persuade the international community and Pakistan, we are also clear that ultimately it is we who have to deal with this problem,” he said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani meanwhile said his country did not want war with India.

“If war is imposed upon us, the whole nation would be united and the armed forces are fully capable of safeguarding and defending the territorial integrity of the country,” Gilani told Pakistani Ambassador to India Shahid Malik.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have all visited the region since the Mumbai attacks in a bid to calm tensions between the nuclear-armed adversaries.

“We expect Pakistan to do whatever it has committed,” Mukherjee said.

He said Pakistan’s response to the attacks demonstrated its “tendency to resort to a policy of denial.”

Pakistan refuses to hand over suspects in the Mumbai strikes and rejects evidence that the gunmen were from Pakistan.

Delhi blames the carnage on Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistan-based militant group fighting in Indian-held Kashmir.

Under pressure from the UN, Pakistan banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity, which is accused of being a front for LET.

The Lashkar has already been banned by Pakistan, but India accuses Islamabad of not cracking down on the group.

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