12/01/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Prime minister of Maharashtra resigns, as tension with Pakistan increases

The BJP maintains that the government "cannot remain in office." Relations with Islamabad are being made more critical by the statements of the captured terrorist, who is explaining how he was trained in the nearby country. On Wednesday, Rice goes to New Delhi.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The prime minister of the state of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, has offered his resignation following the bloody terrorist attack in Mumbai. Deshmukh, a member of the Congress Party, has stated that "if the responsibility of the attacks is on the chief minister, then I will go. The final decision is with the high command."

The massacre in Mumbai has already led to the resignation of the interior minister, Shivraj Patil. Deshmukh's offer is a new signal of the negative effect that the attack is having on the party currently in power. The rage among the people appears to favor the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while next year's elections approach. "It's too little, too late," BJP spokesman Prataap Rudy said immediately in commenting on the resignations. "The responsibility should also be collective, and no government has the right to survive after this."

But there are also some who maintain that, as always happens in times of crisis, the people could consolidate around the government.

But at the moment, the greatest concerns are connected to relations between India and Pakistan. In an attempt to soften these, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has announced that she will be in New Delhi on Wednesday. According to the announcement, the visit will be dedicated to the question of security, but it seems certain that Rice will try to lower the tension with Islamabad.

The tension is being increased between the two countries - both armed with nuclear weapons - in part because of the statements attributed to the captured terrorist, according to which he was trained in an Islamist camp in Pakistan, and, during the operation, took his orders from leaders who are also in Pakistan. According to information provided by Indian police officials, who have asked to remain anonymous, the preparation of the attackers was carried out by the group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and guided by a former member of the Pakistani army. The group Lashkar-e-Taiba is believed to operate among Islamic groups in Kashmir, and is considered responsible for the attack in 2001 on the Indian parliament. Security experts maintain that in reality, the group is connected to the military secret service of Islamabad.

On the Pakistani side, from the first moment political representatives have condemned the attack. President Asif Ali Zardari has offered collaboration, and has sent the head of his military secret service. Now, in the face of the increasing rumors about the nationality of the attackers - all believed to be Pakistani - and about connections to his country, Zardari himself has stated that there is no connection between the terrorists and state authorities, and asks that any responsibility not be attributed to his citizens.

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