NEW DELHI: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New Delhi on
Wednesday (December 03) as part of intense U.S. efforts to ease tension
between India and Pakistan that has surged over the Mumbai attacks.
The top U.S. military commander was also visiting the nuclear-armed South
Asian rivals and India's senior-most diplomat held meetings in Washington in
The 10 Islamist gunmen who killed 183 people in a three-day rampage in
India's financial capital last week were from a Pakistani militant group,
India has long said Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act against groups
on its soil which launch such strikes and the attacks have threatened to
unravel improving ties between the adversaries, who have fought three wars
since independence from Britain in 1947.
Islamabad has denied involvement and condemned the Mumbai attacks.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said military action was not being
considered but later warned a peace process begun in 2004 was at risk if
Pakistan did not act decisively.
The deterioration could also put U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in the
region at risk — Islamabad has said the tensions may force it to shift
troops from operations against al Qaeda militants on the Afghanistan border
to the frontier with India.
Rice cut short a European tour to come to India. She will meet Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is under election-year pressure to craft a
muscular response to opposition criticism his ruling Congress party is weak
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, would
also visit the region starting on Wednesday, officials said.
India's Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met Deputy Secretary of State
John Negroponte and other officials in Washington on Tuesday (December
India and Pakistan were on the brink of a fourth war in 2002, just a few
years after both demonstrated nuclear weapons capabilities, following an
attack on India's parliament by Islamist militants.
They pulled back after frantic diplomacy by the United States and other
On Monday, New Delhi renewed a long-standing demand for about 20 fugitives
it believes are hiding in Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved from Hindu-majority
India in 1947.
Officials said the list includes Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld boss
blamed for 1993 bombings in Mumbai that killed 250, and Maulana Masood Azhar,
a Pakistani Muslim cleric freed from jail in India in exchange for passengers
on a hijacked jet.
Pakistan has said it is willing to act against Islamist groups if given
proof of their involvement in the Mumbai attacks and offered a joint
Islamabad has said it is battling the same kind of enemy at home. In the
past year, hundreds of people have been killed in militant attacks across
Pakistan, including a suicide bombing which destroyed the Marriott hotel in
Mumbai's police chief Hasan Gafoor said the attackers had trained for a
year or more in commando tactics. Azam Amir Kasav, the only gunmen of the 10
not killed by commandos, told investigators he is a Pakistani citizen from
Punjab, Gafoor said.
But Zardari said India had provided no proof the gunman was Pakistani.
Investigators have said a former Pakistani army officer led the training,
organised by the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba group, that was also blamed for
the 2001 attack on India's parliament. Ibrahim is said to be one of its
U.S. officials say the attacks bear the hallmarks of operations by groups
like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which have fought Indian rule in
Many Indians have expressed anger at apparent intelligence lapses and a
slow security reaction to the attacks against Mumbai's two best-known luxury
hotels and other landmarks in the city of 18 million.