Mumbai massacre: diplomatic war between India and Pakistan
by Qaiser Felix
Islambad describes New Delhiā€™s dossier on Mumbai attack as information, not concrete evidence. Indian army chief says war is a last resort. Pakistan arrests 124 suspects and closes down five Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – India and Pakistan are in a diplomatic war over the file New Delhi handed over to Islamabad containing evidence that “Pakistani elements” were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last 26 November. Yesterday however the Pakistani government described the material in the file as “information,” not “evidence. Through its Foreign Ministry, it expressed its regrets that India, instead of responding in a constructive manner, continued to fuel tensions.

India’s response was swift. It said that Pakistan’s reaction to India’s dossier on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai may harm ties between the two nuclear-armed nations, the Foreign Ministry in New Delhi said.

India’s military leaders also said that whilst they wanted to avert military confrontation, they still viewed it as a last but possible resort.

Muhammad Sadiq, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, said that his country was making every effort to defuse tensions in South Asia, and cooperate with India and the results of its own investigation into the Mumbai attacks would be handed over to India.

India's army chief General Deepak Kapoor also entered the fray, saying that India was keeping al its options open, even if he regarded war as a “last resort.”

Pakistan reacted to the general’s statement saying that “it would be better for the two countries to work together to overcome the common challenges facing the region” rather than “orchestrating a diplomatic and political campaign against Pakistan.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani tried to reduce tensions, saying that the “leadership and people of Pakistan desire friendly and cooperative relationship with India.”

“May the New Year bring peace to our region and progress and prosperity to our people,” Mr Gilani said in a New Year message to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Islamabad also announced the shutting down of five Lashkar-e-Taiba training camps and the arrest of 124 suspected terrorists. This group is thought to responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mehboob Sada, director of the Christian Study Centre (CSC) in Pakistan, said that the press releases by the two countries show immaturity and a lack of wisdom.

He noted that both Pakistanis and Indians want “peace and a friendly relationship” and are committed to dialogue, but the circumstances at present “are not favourable.”

“The political situation in Pakistan is also weak and needs to be strengthened”, he said. “There are so many other issues the country has to handle.”

He also warned both countries against those elements within each who do not want “peace and development” but cause instead situations of tension.

In his opinion both countries should “stop exchanging emotional statements immediately and start a real dialogue” instead.

“No doubt, the situation between Pakistan and India is tense,” said Peter Jacob, executive secretary National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), as misunderstandings do not favour communication.

“I think both countries don’t want war.” The two “have to work in a more serious way rather than going in a hot statements game,” he added.