India pressurises Pak to crack down on militants
India yesterday piled new pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamic militants in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh citing a "moral duty" to combat terrorism.
The comments came after Pakistan arrested dozens of members of the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, suspected of being a front for militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) -- which India blames for last month's attacks on its financial hub.
Pakistan has placed the charity's leader Hafiz Saeed under house arrest and ordered its assets frozen after the UN Security Council listed it as a terror group following the attacks that left 172 people dead, including nine gunmen.
Asserting that all democratic forces should unite to fight terrorism, Manmohan Singh Saturday said the governments of the region have a "moral duty" to take firm and expeditious action against the menace.
"In our region, there is growing awareness that terrorism and extremism pose a threat to democracy and development. Governments and authorities in our region and elsewhere have a moral duty to act firmly and quickly," he said inaugurating an international conference of jurists on Terrorism, Rule of Law and Human Rights here.
The Prime Minister called on "all peace-loving and democratic forces" around the world to join hands in the fight against all manifestations of extremism and intolerance.
"The threat of terrorism is not divisible. The fight against it is also not divisible. The defence of freedom and peace is also not divisible," Singh said.
"The forces of terrorism, inspired by ideologies of hatred, intolerance and exclusion, pose today a fundamental challenge to liberal democracies," Singh told a conference of jurists in New Delhi.
"They pose a challenge to democracy at home, to democracy in our region, to democracy around the world," he said.
"Governments and authorities in our region and elsewhere have therefore a moral duty to act firmly and quickly," he said.
New Delhi had previously blamed "elements in Pakistan" for being behind the 60-hour siege that ended on November 28, raising tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said "non-state actors" operating on Pakistani soil were responsible for the attacks.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee meanwhile voiced scepticism over Pakistan's arrests of Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which like LeT is fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.
"We shall have to see whether these (actions by Pakistan) are taken to their logical conclusion," said the minister, noting Islamabad had detained the pair in 2002 but later released them.
Meanwhile, the United States has said that Pakistan banned the Jamat-ud-Dawah for its own interest and not because Islamabad was warned by the Bush administration that it stood to be branded as a terrorist state.
At Foggy Bottom the Spokesman Sean McCormack was asked to clarify a statement by the Defence Minister of Pakistan that Islamabad had to ban the Jamaat because if that hadn't happened, it would have been branded a terrorist state.
"Is that the message the US has sent out?" McCormack was asked.
"No," he replied.
"...Pakistan did this because it saw it in its interest. As we have said many, many times over, the threat from violent extremists is as much a threat to Pakistani people and the Pakistani government as it is to anybody else. All that said, it's a welcome step that they took," he said.
"This is a day-by-day process, and it's something that requires vigilance every single day, fighting terrorism," he said making the point that at no time was there any talk of branding Pakistan as a terrorist state.
The Spokesman was also asked to clarify if the banning of the Jamaat would be one of the topics that the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be covering when she visits the United Nations next week.
Rice is scheduled to be in New York for two days starting Monday for discussion on a range of issues including Zimbabwe and piracy.
"...There are a lot of different things that she's going to be talking about up there. I'm sure that she will touch on the issues related to India and Pakistan. I know that Foreign Secretary Miliband, at least at this point in time, plans to be up there and she plans to see him. And if they do get together, I'm sure that that topic will come up," he added.