India's Parliament Debates Response to Mumbai Terror Siege



Indian cabinet members, speaking before parliament Thursday, said those who laid siege to Mumbai certainly came from Pakistan, but they are ruling out military retaliation.  An opposition leader calls the challenge facing India "a war-like situation."  

Tough language regarding Pakistan was aired in India's parliament , in a session devoted to the terror attack on Mumbai.  In his  first official remarks to lawmakers, the country's new home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, indicated that intelligence findings leave no doubt as to where the attack originated.

"The finger of suspicion unmistakably points to the territory of our neighbor, Pakistan," he said.

The interior minister announced that 20 new schools will be set up, nationwide, to train commandos and other personnel in counter-insurgency and anti-terror techniques.  A special coastal
command will be established to try to prevent more militants from again using the sea to enter India for terror strikes.

Chidambaram says the entire region is "in the eye of the storm of terror."

His fellow cabinet member, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told lawmakers - some of whom shouted for revenge against Pakistan - that a retaliatory strike is not an option.  But he insists Islamabad completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.  

"What we are most respectfully submitting, suggesting to the government of Pakistan, please act," he said.  "A mere expression of intention is not adequate."

Opposition leader L.K. Advani, of the nationalist BJP party, accuses Pakistan of sheltering organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, known as L-e-T, which is blamed for the 60-hour siege of Mumbai.

"If South Asia is today in the eye of the storm of terror, the epicenter of this storm is Pakistan," said Advani.

A United Nations Security Council panel Wednesday has ruled that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity is a front for L-e-T and designated four L-e-T leaders as terrorists, including one who was among the suspects arrested this week by Pakistani authorities.

Pakistan insists it will try any suspects who are implicated in the Mumbai attack, which left about 170 people dead.  India wants the suspects handed over for trial here.

The only surviving gunman of the assault on Mumbai has been remanded in police custody for a further two weeks.  Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman did not appear in court.  Instead, a magistrate visited Mumbai police headquarters, amid security concerns about transporting the suspect.  In addition to facing murder and other charges, police say Iman is accused of "making war against the country."

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