US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Pakistani government on Thursday that it must mount a “robust response” to last week’s terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. Rice arrived in Pakistan for meetings with civilian and military leaders after a visit to India, where she expressed Washington’s condolences for the 171 people killed.
U S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad
Two high-profile American visitors in Islamabad in the space of 24 hours clearly underscored the US desire to maintain peace between India and Pakistan. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee Admiral Mike Mullen air dashed to the Pakistani capital on Wednesday and met important civilian and military leaders.
His message was clear: exercise caution and cooperate with India in investigating the November 27 Mumbai terror incidents.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brought more or less the same message from New Delhi, where President George Bush had sent her to express US solidarity with India.
Urgency to catch culprits
In her meetings with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Islamabad, Rice spoke of the urgency to catch the culprits.
“The Indian government is concerned and determined to find the perpetrators too and to bring them to justice, determined to prevent next attacks, I find the Pakistani leadership understands the importance of doing that, and particularly in rooting out terrorists and whoever perpetrated this attack.”
President Zardari promised to take stern action against any body or group found involved in acts of terrorism in India. The US Secretary of State said that this promise underscored the commitment of the Pakistani leadership to act against terror networks.
“Obviously, the best thing is that these two countries do what they can through their own capacity to fully investigate and to bring people to justice. There is urgency to getting to the bottom of it, there is urgency to bringing people to justice and there is urgency to use the information to disrupt and prevent further attacks,” Rice said.
Need for close cooperation
Officials believe the contents of discussions behind the closed doors will probably be more direct and instructive than those disclosed to the media.
The American foreign secretary welcomed Pakistani promises to help but also emphasised the need of close cooperation between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan had yet to respond on Thursday to the protest demarches that India has sent but observers believe the visits to Islamabad by American dignitaries will likely diffuse tensions between India and Pakistan; especially in view of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the economic crisis that is currently sweeping the world.