Indo-Pak Affairs

Indian claims unsubstantiated

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in Pakistan yesterday condemned what they called New Delhi’s “unsubstantiated” allegations against Islamabad over the Mumbai attacks and called for both countries to conduct a joint probe. Federal MPs also called for an end to “war hype” whipped up between the nuclear-armed South Asian countries following last month’s attacks, which India has blamed on a banned Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

“The National Assembly of Pakistan condemns unsubstantiated allegations leveled in haste against Pakistan,” the lawmakers said in a resolution approved unanimously after a weeklong general debate on national security.

The resolution called upon India “to respond to the constructive proposals made by the government of Pakistan, namely joint investigations and high-level engagement with a view to addressing concerns relating to the Mumbai incident.” Lawmakers said Pakistan had put forth these proposals “to defuse tensions in South Asia” and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

India says the gunmen were trained and equipped by LeT, which is fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, and traveled to Mumbai on a hijacked trawler from the Pakistani port of Karachi. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated following the attacks, with both sides raising the specter of war, while at the same time calling for a calming of tensions and an end to empty rhetoric.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday dismissed talk of war with Pakistan, but again demanded that Islamabad do more to crack down on militants blamed for cross-border attacks.

Pakistan’s Parliament condemned the “war hype” but noted that the armed forces would defend the nation at all costs. The lawmakers urged India to “exercise restraint” and stop “hostile propaganda,” which sought to cover what they called New Delhi’s “intelligence failure” in relation to the attacks.

Late last night, President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to defend Pakistan till the last drop of his blood. “There would be no compromise on the country’s sovereignty and integrity. Pakistan is a great nation and we will defend the country till the last drop of our blood,” Zardari said at the Annual Day function of his alma mater, Petaro Cadet College, in Sindh.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters in Islamabad that Pakistan is “acting with utmost restraint” and its people could not be “deterred from the path of peace and regional cooperation.”However, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about the government’s resolve and capability to defend Pakistan’s territorial integrity,” she said. “Our government’s policy of restraint should not be viewed as an act of cowardice.”

Fiery rhetoric has been coming from various quarters on both sides, much of it from media commentators, since the attacks.

India has put on hold a five-year-old peace process that Pakistan had been trying to push forward. Indian officials have said they were keeping all options open, comments the Indian media have widely interpreted to mean that a military response was possible.

Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor visited disputed Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield, and bordering areas of Jammu and Kashmir to assess the army’s preparedness on Tuesday, but army officials described the visit as routine. “It is important to review the operational preparedness in the region and he has done just that,” an Indian Army spokesman said.

Pakistan’s Air Force scrambled fighter jets on Monday over several cities as part of what the force calls increased vigilance following the rise in tension with India. But most analysts believe the tension is unlikely to descend into war.

Retired Indian Maj. Gen. Ashok K. Mehta, a security analyst, said he expected sharp exchanges of words to continue until India gave Pakistan the proof it says it has that Pakistan-based militants were involved. “It will go like that until the Government of India provides the evidence to the Government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels, which India is hesitant about since they do not want to compromise their sources,” Mehta told Reuters.

Courtesy: Arab News

About the author

Azhar Masood

Azhar Masood is Controller of News in PTV, and Chief Instructor of PTV Academy, working for Arab News. He has Covered Iraq War from Baghdad for CNN, BBC, FOX News, and Al-Jazeera and other regional channels. He covered conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina. He interviewed Yasir Arafat of Palestine, Paul Wolfoweit, Prime Minister Jean Ghteyan of Canada, Dr. Amar Musa of Egypt, Mr. Haris Slajic, Prime Minister of Bosnia Dr. Akbar Ali Vallayati, former Foreign Minister of Iran, President Kumaratunge of Sri Lanka, Mr. Kumar Su Bramanyem, Director of National Defence Institute of India, Mr. Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan, Dr. Ahmad Chalabi of Iraq National Congress, Mr. Hoshyar Zubari, Vice President Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq

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