India to decisively respond to future terrorist strikes: HM

NEW DELHI: On a day when suicide bombers struck at military establishments in Lahore killing more than 40 people, India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram said India would respond swiftly and decisively to any further 26/11 Mumbai - type attacks emanating from Pakistan.

“If it is reasonably established that any 26/11 attack in future has its origin

in Pakistan, India’s response will be swift and decisive,” Chidambaram said, responding today to a question at a media conclave. He declined to specify whether the action would be military but added that being nuclear-armed neighbours, war was not an option.

“The two nations are nuclear powers and war is not an option. So we must talk. At other times, we must remain vigilant.” India’s tough Interior Minister stated that Pakistan was a “difficult neighbour” and dismissed suggestions that the Pakistani state did not sponsor terrorism against India.

“It is no secret that the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence wing of the Pakistan army) gets its support from Pakistan-based terror groups that run modules in India,” Chidambaram said. “It is no secret that every militant organization that is based in Pakistan, is supported by ISI.

Lashkar (e Taiba or LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen, JuD (Jamaat-ud-Dawa), Al Badr - everyone of them is supported by ISI”. “If it is the state policy to sponsor terrorism, if the state policy is to export terrorism to India, how will we deal with that state?”

Chidambaram said, in probably the hardest

hitting set of comments made at a public forum against Pakistan.

When the Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik clarified that Pakistani state actors have nothing to do with terror in India, Chidambaram sought Pakistan’s assistance to verify the voices of the transcripts of the handlers of the 26/11 attacks. He said that Pakistan had not cooperated in that probe. He said: “Assuming that state factors have nothing to do with terror in India, why has Pakistan allowed non-state factors to spread terror in India?”

Chidambaram’s comments echoed and came a day after several eminent US scholars and South Asia analysts categorically told US lawmakers that the ISI continues to maintain links with LeT, the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit responsible for 26/11, and Islamabad is reluctant to take action against its leaders and its network, At a special Congressional hearing on Thursday on ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba and the growing ambition of Islamic militancy in Pakistan’,

US Congressmen unanimously expressed concern that despite best of the efforts by the Obama administration, the ISI continues to maintain links with LeT and that Pakistan is not taking decisive action against the terrorist outfit.

“The LeT is a deadly serious group of fanatics. They are well financed, ambitious, and most disturbingly, both tolerated by, and connected to, the Pakistani military,” said Gary L Ackerman, chairman of the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. And it is the same Pakistani military, to which the Obama administration is selling advanced arms, he pointed out.

Testifying before the

Congressional committee, Marvin G Weinbaum,

from the Middle East Institute — a Washington-based think tank, said despite

the government official

ban on the LeT, the ISI continued to consider the organization as an asset.

India has repeatedly urged the Pakistan government

to rein in the LeT and

its chief Hafeez Saeed, who has publicly exhorted

Pakistanis to wage ‘jihad’ against India. Chidambaram insisted war was not an option and termed Kashmir as the key problem between India and Pakistan, which could only be resolved through dialogue.

“We must talk, when we can, when we think there can be progress,” he said. India initiated a process of dialogue last month, with Foreign Secretaries of both countries meeting after a long hiatus. However, there was no progress in the discussions and it is unclear when the next round of bilateral dialogue will happen.