In what appeared to be a response to international pressure, the Pakistani authorities arrested about a dozen activists on Monday and sealed the offices of a militant outfit formerly known as Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group is accused of being involved in the recent terror attacks in the Indian commercial city of Mumbai. Tensions are high in India and Pakistan.
Indian allegations of Pakistani involvement in the recent deadly attacks in Mumbai have heightened tensions between the two rival neighbours
The string of allegations and the media hype in India since the Mumbai attacks have triggered some fears of an armed conflict with Pakistan.
Early last week, leaders in Washington and London in particular felt the need to intervene to pacify angry Indians and to urge Pakistan to cooperate in the investigations into the attacks.
But mutual allegations and expressions of mistrust continue to cause alarm.
Special cabinet session
It was against this context that Pakistan's cabinet committee on defence held an unusual session on Monday, despite a public holiday.
The presence of the prime minister, the army chief and the head of the mighty Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) underscored the sense of urgency that the Indian government's belligerent statements have triggered in Islamabad.
Information minister Sherry Rehman told media after the meeting that Pakistan was “a responsible, democratic state, committed to safeguarding its national interest and fulfilling its international obligations.”
She said Pakistan “rejects terrorism in all forms and manifestations and recognises that actions against terrorism are integral to its core interests,” saying Pakistan would comply with the Indian investigation and would do its utmost to uproot terror networks wherever they were.
Islamabad under international pressure
Observers claim that international pressure has shaken Pakistan's fragile democratic government, which has been trying to demonstrate its readiness to take part in anti-terror investigations.
But former minister Wazir Jogezai said that building pressure on Pakistan alone could be counterproductive. He said it could “strengthen the agents of destruction” and that pressure should be applied “with lots of care and intelligence.”
“It is not only a military question. It is an intellectual and material question. Pakistan has to be helped intellectually, materially and militarily.”
ISI officers have terror links, says US
The media both in Pakistan and outside have running reports for days now that the US has asked for access to a few senior ISI officers including one of its former heads, General Hameed Gul, whom they reportedly want to put on the international terror list, accusing them of having links with Islamist groups.
Wazir Jogezai thinks this is absurd and “nonsensical” and that if the US wants to make such “demands” then the American University of Nebraska “should be taken to task” for its involvement in changing the Afghan curriculum in the late 1970s.
Soon after the CIA began arming the anti-Soviet Russian resistance in Afghanistan, the university was commissioned to revise the text books for Afghan children in such a way as to inject the spirit of Jihad in them.
After the fall of the Taliban seven years ago, the American administration again spent several million dollars to revise Afghan school text books.
Many Pakistanis hold the United States equally responsible for the conditions that Afghanistan and Pakistan find themselves itself in today.