Thursday, July 5, 2012

India: Pakistan needs to arrest Mumbai attackers

NEW DELHI ? India said Thursday that Pakistan should prosecute the architects of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to build confidence in the countries? peace efforts, while Pakistan said it would fight terrorism but denied that its intelligence agents were involved in the bloodshed.

The two-day talks reflected the chasm that exists between the nuclear-armed neighbors over how to tackle terrorism.

India says it has given increasingly detailed evidence to Islamabad over the past three years that Pakistani militants participated in attacks on India and has urged Pakistan to crack down. Islamabad insists New Delhi has not provided usable information.

That disagreement resurfaced Thursday as Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai insisted Pakistan now possesses all the evidence Indian investigators had on the Mumbai attacks and should use that information to take down the terror leaders.

Mathai?s Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, said Pakistan would act ? once India handed over the evidence.

?Whatever evidence India has, should be shared with us, and we will investigate,? Jilani said, standing beside Mathai at a news conference.

The talks came two weeks after India arrested a suspect in the attacks that killed 166 people in India?s financial capital. Indian investigators say Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari told them Pakistani intelligence agents were in a Karachi control room helping coordinate the 60-hour siege by 10 attackers.

Mathai said Ansari?s arrest added urgency to India?s demand that Islamabad prosecute the planners of the attack.

?I emphasized that terrorism is the biggest threat to peace and security in the region and that bringing the guilty to justice in the Mumbai terror attacks would be the biggest confidence-building measure of all,? Mathai said.

Jilani said his country is ?willing to enter comprehensive cooperation in order to defeat the forces of terrorism,? but he rejected India?s accusation that Pakistani officials were involved in the Mumbai attack or any other assault on India.

He suggested that top security officials from the two South Asian nations meet to discuss ways to tackle the common threat of terrorism.

India has long said Pakistani officials helped coordinate the attacks and that Islamabad is dragging its feet in prosecuting the planners.

Ansari, who also uses the alias Abu Jundal, has corroborated evidence given by American terrorist David Coleman Headley during his trial in Chicago last year that Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba worked closely and had cooperated in planning the Mumbai attack.

Pakistan has repeatedly maintained that the ISI has no links to Lashkar, which officially is banned in Pakistan but is widely thought to be supported by some in government.

The Mumbai attacks paralyzed peace efforts between the countries, but ties warmed gradually and talks resumed in February 2011. The countries have pushed bilateral trade and increased people-to-people contacts even as the thorny issues of terrorism and the status of the Kashmir region remain unresolved.

Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since 1947 have been over the Himalayan region, which is divided between them but claimed by both entirely.

The meeting in New Delhi over the past two days was intended to set the stage for a foreign ministers meeting in September in Islamabad.


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