India demands Pakistan sign of faith over Mumbai
New Delhi, December 2, 2008
India demanded Pakistan hand over 20 of its most wanted men in a sign of good faith on Tuesday as diplomatic efforts to head off a confrontation between the nuclear-armed rivals over the Mumbai attacks intensified.
The demand was contained in a protest note handed to Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik in New Delhi on Monday, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.
'We have in our demarche (diplomatic steps) asked for the arrest and hand-over of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitive of Indian law,' he said, adding about 20 people were on the list.
The Times of India and television channels reported the men included Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld leader, and Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani Muslim cleric freed from jail in India in exchange for passengers on a hijacked plane.
The foreign ministry said on Monday that Malik had been told that 'Pakistan's actions needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India'.
Pakistan said it would respond to the demand soon.
'We have to look at it formally once we get it (the note) and we will frame a response,' Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters in Islamabad.
Mukherjee later said India was not considering military action in response to last week's Mumbai attacks.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa was in New Delhi on a scheduled visit on Tuesday while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was due to arrive on Wednesday.
India has blamed Islamist militants based in Pakistan for the attacks in India's financial capital that killed 183 people.
Ibrahim, India's most wanted man, is reported to be living in Pakistan. He is wanted for bomb attacks in Mumbai in 1993 that killed at least 250 people.
Reports have said his henchmen in the city could have also provided some support in the latest strike.
Britain's top military officer warned the tensions between India and Pakistan could set back Islamabad's offensive against Islamist Taliban and al Qaeda militants along the Afghan border.
Indian investigators have said the Mumbai attackers had months of commando training in Pakistan by the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, blamed for a 2001 attack on India's parliament. Ibrahim is said to be one of its financers.
The 2001 attack on India's parliament nearly set off the fourth war between the two countries since Pakistan was carved from India in 1947 after independence from Britain.
The Mumbai attacks have also rocked India's ruling Congress party coalition. The interior minister has resigned and other top politicians from the party have offered to step down.
Analysts say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, facing an election by May, must walk a delicate line not to upset regional stability but to act forcefully enough to counter opposition accusations Congress is weak on security.
Many Indians have expressed anger at apparent intelligence lapses and a slow reaction by security forces to the attacks against Mumbai's two best-known luxury hotels and other landmarks in the city of 18 million.
Rice's visit underscores the gravity with which Washington sees the regional implications of the attacks. She met British counterpart David Miliband in London on Monday.
'I don't want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that is what we expect (from Pakistan),' Rice told reporters on Monday.
Officials in Islamabad have warned any deterioration of ties would force it to divert troops to the Indian border and away from a US-led anti-militant campaign on the Afghan frontier.
Britain's chief of defence s