NEW DELHI (AFP) – Pakistan has to prove it is sincere about working with India to counter terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned after police accused Islamabad of plotting blasts that killed 186 commuters in India’s financial capital Mumbai.
“Pakistan will have to walk the talk,” to back up its promise to cooperate on terrorism, Singh told reporters Tuesday night.
“Whatever has been discovered (by Mumbai police), we shall share that information with Pakistan and test them on how sincere they are in carrying forward the commitment I and President (Pervez) Musharraf have underlined,” Singh said on his plane trip home from South Africa.
Mumbai police chief A.N. Roy on Saturday publicly accused Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), of orchestrating the July attacks on trains that also wounded 800.
Pakistan has pledged to take action if India produces evidence to show that ISI was involved in the Mumbai bombings, but has denied any role in the attacks.
India froze peace talks with Pakistan in the aftermath of the attacks but agreed to continue the dialogue after a meeting between Singh and Musharraf in Havana on September 16.
The leaders decided to “put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.”
When asked how the proposed counter-terrorism mechanism would work, Singh said: “We have set up this mechanism. How else can we ask for information except through a mechanism like this?”
“The mechanism is yet to take off,” he said.
But once it does, “then we will test the waters,” Singh said. He added that the peace process cannot “move forward until both countries sincerely work to gain mastery over this menace.”
India’s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan echoed Singh’s warning.
“If Pakistan is willing to help us out with this and says, ‘Okay that they (militants) are located in Islamabad or Karachi,’ the mechanism can operate.
“But if everytime if it (Pakistan) comes back to us and says, ‘It is not true,’ then of course it means they are not willing to cooperate,” Narayanan told Times Now television.
India’s million-plus military, locked in combat with Muslim rebels in Kashmir since 1989, has supported the mechanism but commentators said the allegations over the Mumbai blasts would now test Pakistan’s intentions.
“The joint mechanism will not change the nomenclature of ‘enemy’ that the two sides use to describe each other, but still we must not reject it altogether as this is an opening point to talks,” former army lieutenant general Afsir Karim told AFP.
Retired air vice marshal Kapil Kak said India, which accuses Pakistan of infiltrating Islamic militants into disputed Kashmir, had no choice.
“We must involve diplomatic, economic, technological and military options and this planned mechanism could be one of the tools,” said Kak, the director of the privately-run Centre for Strategic Studies think-tank.
However, the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has branded the mechanism a “national betrayal.”
“The perpetrators of cross-border terrorism have been co-opted as partners in our fight against terrorism and the distinction between the aggressor and the victim of aggression have been done away with,” said Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP foreign minister.