The prime ministers of India and Pakistan met briefly on Monday on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Washington as Islamabad tried to persuade its longtime rival to look beyond the horrors of the Mumbai attacks.
The South Asian nations in February resumed a cautious dialogue that had been cut off since the November 2008 siege of India’s financial capital, which was blamed on the Pakistan-based extremist movement Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The two nuclear powers did not plan talks during a 47-nation summit on nuclear security in Washington, but Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani shook hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a dinner reception.
Diplomats from the two nations said the prime ministers exchanged little more than pleasantries and did not hold substantive discussions, but Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi voiced hope for extensive diplomacy, saying it was “the only way forward” between the two countries.
“We have to look beyond Mumbai. Mumbai was sad, Mumbai was tragic, but we are as much victims of terrorism as India is and so this terrorist threat becomes a common challenge,” Qureshi told reporters.
He appealed to US President Barack Obama to “nudge” the two nations together, voicing concern about the views of both India’s ruling Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist opposition.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh means well. We have no doubt about that,” Qureshi said. “But the problem is that he has not been able to carry domestic politics along within the Congress Party and the BJP.”
The BJP “has been very hawkish on him, I think unfair to him, and unfair to the region because ... coexistence is the most sensible way forward,” Qureshi said.
Indian investigators have found that Lashkar-e-Taiba handlers based in Pakistan orchestrated the chilling attacks on a top hotel, bar and Jewish center in Mumbai, which left 166 people dead.
Singh has also asked Obama to use his influence, on Sunday asking him to pressure Pakistan to rein in anti-Indian militants.
Singh told Obama “that unfortunately there was no will on the part of the government of Pakistan to punish those responsible for the terrorist crimes in Mumbai,” Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Sunday.
US authorities have welcomed what they see as Pakistan’s growing resolve to fight against homegrown and Afghan Taliban, but the US has also encouraged Pakistan to do more against Lashkar-e-Taiba, which some experts believe Islamabad’s powerful military and intelligence service find useful to pit against India.
Gilani confirmed that Obama raised Singh’s concerns to him and said his civilian government had no tolerance for extremists.
Gilani, speaking to a roundtable of reporters, vowed never to “allow a handful of extremist bigots and terrorists to represent our peaceful way of life and inclusive culture.”
“We don’t want our soil used against any country and neither would we allow somebody else’s soil to be used against Pakistan,” Gilani said.
Gilani said that Pakistan has already banned some extremist groups and frozen their bank accounts and was seeking more evidence from India against Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“If we have more effective evidence, certainly they will be brought to justice,” Gilani said.
Analyst Bruce Riedel, however, a former CIA officer who led a major strategy review for Obama, said that Lashkar-e-Taiba has “continued to flourish” in Pakistan.
“What makes it so dangerous is that, unlike the mostly Pashtun Taliban, it recruits its followers in the Punjab, the same place where the Pakistani army recruits its officer corps,” he wrote in a paper of the Brookings Institution.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since