US top diplomat Condoleezza Rice has urged Pakistan to cooperate with India on probes into the Mumbai attacks. EU leaders are also closely watching developments in ties between India and Pakistan after the attacks.
Rice wants Pakistan to crack down on militants
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said she is satisfied with Pakistan’s readiness to help India with the probe into the terror attacks in Mumbai. Rice visited Pakistan on Thursday to ease tensions growing between India and Pakistan following the attacks, which killed 188 people and wounded over 300.
After her arrival, Rice met with Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Rawalpindi. Talks were also scheduled with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. ‘’I have found the Pakistani leadership focussed and committed to act,’’ Rice told reporters.
India has claimed evidence of a Pakistani involvement in the attacks, which killed at least 188 people and wounded over 300. Islamabad has denied these claims. Prior to her visit Rice had said that Pakistan needed to mount a ‘’robust response’’ to the Mumbai attacks.
Pressure on Pakistan to respond to terror attacks
International pressure has been mounting on Pakistan to take concrete steps towards rooting out terror groups known to have a safe haven in the Islamic nation. A day before Rice’s visit, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen also visited Islamabad and urged Pakistan to ‘’investigate aggressively’’ any links Pakistani groups may have to the Mumbai attacks.
Tensions are rising along the border.
Deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan are also becoming a matter of concern for the European Union. Foreign ministers of the European Union are meeting on Monday to discuss the situation in India and Pakistan.
In an interview given to a German newspaper after the Mumbai attacks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Germany was concerned about the developments in India, since India and Germany had common interests like the civic rehabilitation of Afghanistan. He said that strained relations between India and Pakistan could have a major destabilisation potential in the entire region. ‘’I hope that it will be understood in both the countries, that there is no alternative route to harmonising and normalising ties,’’ said Steinmeier.
Indian defence minister Pranab Mukherjee has warned that India is considering all options to deal with Pakistan if it does not act decisively. New Delhi has demanded the release of 20 terror suspects wanted by India, but Islamabad has refused to do so, demanding ``tangible evidence’’.
India on high alert
Ties between the two long-time foes India and Pakistan have become strained since the shootings, especially with India facing rising domestic pressure to take strong action against those responsible for the attacks. The US fears the escalating tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad could be detrimental to their efforts to combat terrorism in Pakistan’s northwest.
Pakistan Indien Neue Eiszeit Symbolfoto Flaggen Eiszapfen Grafik: DW / Olof Pock 01.12.2008
Meanwhile, security has been stepped up in India following the attacks. Airports in key cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore are on high alert following warnings from the Defence Ministry of the possibility of attacks using hijacked aircraft. ‘’This is based on a warning which has been received by the government and we are prepared as usual,’’ Air Chief Marshall Fali Major told reports. Fighter jets of the Indian Air Force are also on standby.
Government sources said the alert was issued after intelligence inputs that militants may have sneaked into India to hijack airplanes. The country’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security said that said additional paramilitary troops had also been deployed to guard the country’s busiest international airports. Security has also been reinforced in smaller city airports like Chandigarh and Guwahati.
International travellers have been advised to arrive three hours before departures, and additional checks have been ordered for baggage and security.