Rice demands 'robust' cooperation from Pakistan in Mumbai probe

While Pakistan confronts growing evidence that the terrorist attack was carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, India braces for further sea, air assaults

Arriving in Islamabad on Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanded that the Pakistani government provide "robust" and "effective" cooperation to India in investigating last week's attacks in Mumbai. In talks with the Pakistani leadership, Ms. Rice stated that enough evidence was now available pointing to the involvement of a Pakistan-based extremist group in last week's attacks. Meanwhile, airports in India remained on high alert owing to the threat of further militant strikes.

According to The Guardian, Rice flew to Islamabad after her trip to New Delhi to help diffuse tensions between long-time rivals India and Pakistan.

During her brief visit, Rice first met the head of Pakistan's powerful army, General Ashfaq Kayani, before holding talks with [President Asif Ali] Zardari and the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who lead an eight-month-old civilian government.
Her main task is to somehow prevent growing anger in India and reciprocal resentment in Pakistan spilling over into border tensions, or worse, between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who have already fought three wars since independence.

During talks with the Pakistani leadership, Rice insisted that Pakistan promptly and responsibly follow up on allegations that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks had links to a Pakistan-based group, reports The Hindu.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who flew in on Thursday morning from New Delhi and held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said Pakistan must provide "robust" and "effective" cooperation to India in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes to justice.
"We talked at length about the importance of Pakistan taking its responsibility to deal with those who may use Pakistan territory even if they are non-state actors," she said at a press conference here after her meetings with the Pakistani leadership.
"Pakistan needs to investigate the circumstances under which these attacks took place in Mumbai," said Rice who was provided evidence by India yesterday about involvement of Pakistan-based terrorists in last week's attacks.

The Pakistani prime minister responded positively to Rice's request for cooperation between the two countries to fight terror, reports the Associated Press.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told Rice later during a meeting in Islamabad that the Mumbai attacks were "beyond anyone's imagination" and stressed his government's efforts to boost relations with India since taking office in March.
"My instinct was to fight against terrorism," Gilani said.

Speaking in Islamabad, Rice claimed that enough evidence was now available to implicate Pakistan-based terrorists in last week's attacks, reports Bloomberg.

Condoleezza Rice said Pakistan's government has been given sufficient evidence to take action against suspects in last week's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai...
There is a "lot of information about what happened here, a lot of information," Rice said. "And so this isn't an issue of sharing evidence."...
Pakistan's leadership "is very focused and very committed" to acting against those who planned the attack, Rice told reporters after meeting President Asif Ali Zardai and Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad today.

According to Reuters India, a gunman detained in connection with the Mumbai attacks has confessed to ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group.

The gunmen who attacked Mumbai took orders from the operations chief of a Pakistani Islamist militant group who was designated a terrorist by the United States in May, Indian security officials said on Thursday.
The lone surviving gunman told his interrogators he and the other nine attackers were in contact with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, whom the United States says is the operations chief of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group....
Gunman Azam Amir Kasav told his interrogators they spoke to Lakhvi and other LeT leaders during their boat journey to Mumbai and also while they battled commandos inside two Mumbai hotels, where most of the 171 people who died in the attacks were killed.

The New York Times reports that additional evidence pointing to the Mumbai attackers' ties to Pakistani and Pakistan-based actors has become available from various sources.

A former Defense Department official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that American intelligence analysts suspect that former officers of Pakistan's powerful spy agency and its army helped train the Mumbai attackers.
According to the Indian police, the one gunman who survived the terrorist attacks, Muhammad Ajmal Kasab, 21, told his interrogators that he trained during a year and half in at least four camps in Pakistan and at one met with Mohammad Hafeez Saeed, the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader.
And according to a Western official familiar with the investigation in Mumbai, another Lashkar leader, Yusuf Muzammil, whom the surviving gunman named as the plot's organizer, fielded phone calls in Lahore from the attackers.

According to the Pakistani daily The News, talks between Rice and the Pakistani leadership were productive and encouraging. "I found focused approach and sense of responsibility in Pakistan's leadership to tackle the menace of terrorism where ever it is," Rice said.

She said Pakistan is itself victim of terrorism, therefore, she hoped that Pakistan will going to investigate the circumstances behind the Mumbai attacks....
Rice said the issue was how to respond in an effective way, adding the most effective way was the 'cooperation between Pakistan and India' for which the United States was ready to extend help wherever required.
To a question about providing information to Pakistan by India in [the] Mumbai attacks, Rice said there was a lot of information and many mechanisms existed to share such information.

While talks between the Pakistani leadership and Rice were under way, more than 2,000 students marched through Islamabad raising anti-India and anti-US slogans, reports The Guardian.

In India, meanwhile, extra security has been deployed at several airports following the threat of further militant attacks, reports the BBC.

Extra checks are being carried out at the airports in the capital Delhi and the cities of Chennai (Madras) and Bangalore. The threat came from the previously unknown Deccan Mujahideen, which said it carried out the multiple attacks in Mumbai that killed at least 188.

According to The Guardian, police in Mumbai also found a grenade, possibly left behind from the attacks, outside the city hospital.

According to the British daily, The Daily Telegraph, military chiefs have been asked to prepare for air and sea attacks in the coming days.

The alerts come after a letter, which claimed terror groups might strike at the airports on Dec 6 and hijack a plane, was sent to an Indian news agency.
Anti-sabotage teams have already been formed at these airports and all airlines have been informed....
Indian Defence Minister A K Antony has told military chiefs to be prepared for attacks from the air and sea in the wake of growing criticism about slack security after the Mumbai attacks.
"Passengers have been asked to arrive three hours before their flights. There is more detailed checking. All luggage is being 100 percent checked," Moushumi Chakravarty, an information officer at the ministry, said.
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