Pakistan has offered to conduct a joint investigation with India into last week’s terrorist attacks on Mumbai that killed more than 170 people and injured several hundred others. But Pakistani President Asif Zardari says his country will not hand over 20 terrorist suspects India has asked be extradited, adding that any evidence of involvement in the attacks by those in Pakistan will be judged in Pakistani courts.
Meanwhile, India is looking into the possibility that one of the planners of the assault in Mumbai has been in police custody since last February. The suspect, an Indian national who was arrested in connection with a police camp in the city of Rampur, had been carrying detailed drawings of hotels, the train terminal, and other sites that were targeted in Mumbai.
An Indian Perspective
India has acknowledged that a failure of its security and intelligence services contributed to last week’s three-day terror attacks on Mumbai. But it has also blamed what it calls “elements from Pakistan” for the well-planned series of attacks on luxury hotels, a Jewish community center, and a number of other locations in India’s financial capital.
Indian journalist Jehangir Pocha, speaking from Mumbai, says there is a lot of public anger aimed at the government and its security services. But, at the same time, he tells host Judith Latham of VOA News Now’s International Press Club, most Indians are convinced that the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the attacks. Pocha says U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies also think so. He calls the response of the Pakistani government “very strange,” noting that Islamabad even disclaims responsibility for groups that function on Pakistani soil. Pocha notes that U.S. troops in Afghanistan have also had to contend with terror groups based in Pakistan. He says Pakistan is playing what he calls a “double game.”
A Pakistani Perspective
Anwar Iqbal, Washington bureau chief with the Pakistani English-language daily Dawn, says Pakistanis are concerned about “retaliatory action” from India. Iqbal says, however, that public opinion in Pakistan strongly opposes giving into Indian demands, especially sending the chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, to New Delhi to help investigate the attacks in Mumbai.
In fact, this is not the first time ISI has been accused of involvement with terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, India, and even Afghanistan. Islamabad denies any connection, blaming the attacks on “non-state actors.” Nonetheless, the continuing allegations have strained relations between the two neighbors. But, despite the warnings of some Western media, Jehangir Pocha says there is very little danger this incident will spark a religious war inside India’s borders.
An Israeli Perspective
Israelis are not very interested in the debate over a Pakistani connection. Journalist Nathan Guttman, Washington correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward, says Israelis view the incident as part of a series of attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets around the world. The attackers specifically targeted the city’s ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavich community center, killing six Israeli and American Jews. Guttman says Israelis believe the Chabad Center was attacked because it was home for a Jewish group and for Israeli tourists. He says Israelis have been very critical of the Indian government for failing to have a level of security that could have prevented the attacks.
Washington’s Role in Diffusing the Crisis
Indian journalist Jehangir Pocha says Washington needs to play a major role in confronting terrorism in the region – starting with Pakistan. He calls Pakistan the “most problematic country in the world today.” It is, he notes, the source of the most terrorism. In addition, Pocha says, it is a country of more than 160 million people that is “ungoverned and ungovernable” and has nuclear weapons.
Pakistani journalist Anwar Iqbal says it is gratifying that the White House has been supportive of the Pakistani government in the aftermath of the attacks. He notes that Washington sees a difference between the militants and the Pakistani government, and he believes Islamabad will fulfill its promise to hold a thorough inquiry into the attack.
The White House dispatched senior officials to the region this week to help defuse tensions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s top military official, have met with officials in New Delhi and Islamabad.