In a new sign of rising tensions between two nuclear-armed neighbors, Indian officials summoned Pakistan’s ambassador on Monday evening and told him that Pakistani nationals were responsible for the terrorist attacks here last week and that they must be punished.
With public anger building against both the Indian government and Pakistan, officials of India’s Foreign Ministry also suggested that the planners of the attacks were still at large in Pakistan, and that they expected “strong action would be taken” by Pakistan against those responsible for the violence, according to a statement released by the ministry. Nine of the 10 men who appear to have carried out the attacks are dead, with the remaining one in custody.
The statement added tartly that Pakistan’s actions “needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India.”
It was not clear whether India had supplied Pakistan with any proof of its claims. Pakistani officials have said that they are not aware of any links to Pakistan-based militants, and that they would act swiftly if they found one.
The Indian government is facing strong criticism at home for its handling of the attacks, in which 173 people were killed over three bloody days here in the country’s financial capital. (The authorities revised the number downward on Monday, saying that some names had been counted twice.)
With elections just months away, the government needs to be seen as acting decisively in the face of the atrocities. But it could be accused of raising a red herring if it does not furnish convincing evidence for its claims of Pakistani involvement.
There is also a groundswell of popular anger here aimed at Pakistan, and the attacks have raised tensions between the two countries to a level not seen since 2001, when a suicide attack on the Indian Parliament pushed them to the brink of war.
The ominous atmosphere poses a special challenge for the United States, a strong ally of India that also depends on Pakistan for cooperation in fighting al-Qaida. Renewed tensions between India and Pakistan could distract Pakistan from that project.
President Bush has dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India, where she was expected to arrive on Wednesday. Speaking in London on Monday, she called on Pakistan in blunt terms “to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” adding, “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation.”
India’s assertion that the attackers were all Pakistani echoes a claim by the one attacker who was captured alive, identified as Ajmal Amir Qasab, said Inspector Rakesh Maria, head of the crime control bureau at the Mumbai police, in a news conference. Qasab also said he was a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamist group accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere, Maria said.