x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

India: Pakistan 'must have' backed Mumbai attack

India's prime minister says the sophistication of the Mumbai attacks means that Pakistani authorities must have had a role.

NEW DELHI // India's prime minister said the sophistication of the Mumbai siege means that Pakistani authorities must have had a hand in the attack, but he was careful today not to directly accuse Islamabad, keeping tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals at a low burn. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meeting with senior officials from around the country to discuss security concerns, spoke amid a rise in Indian rhetoric in recent days and one day after India handed Pakistan a dossier of evidence that New Delhi says proved the attacks were rooted in Pakistan.

That included details from interrogations, recovered weapons, and intercepted communications. Mr Singh said Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistani-based militant group, carried out the attack, which left 164 dead across the financial capital, but he signalled that the 10 young gunmen could not have been working on their own. "Given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan," Mr Singh said.

He did not directly name any Pakistani officials, but India has long blamed Pakistan's powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, for being involved in attacks against India in recent years. "Unfortunately, we cannot choose our neighbours," he said. "Some countries like Pakistan have in the past encouraged and given sanctuary to terrorists and other forces who are antagonistic to India." In the five weeks since the attacks, tensions have been high between the rivals, and Pakistan has redeployed troops toward India and away from the Afghan border, where authorities are battling militants.

Mr Singh accused Pakistan of "whipping up war hysteria", but praised India for remaining "steadfastly united". Indeed, calls for war in India have been largely muted, with even right wing opposition politicians, who endorse a hard line toward Pakistan, adopting a fairly conciliatory approach. India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since they gained independence in 1947 - two over Kashmir, a majority Muslim region in the Himalayas claimed by both countries. Despite the sharper rhetoric, Indian leaders have made clear they do not want to fight a fourth.

But Singh was highly critical of how Pakistan has handled the investigations into recent attacks, indicated Pakistan has been unwilling - or perhaps unable - to crack down on terrorists operating on its soil. "The more fragile a government, the more it tends to act in an irresponsible fashion," he said. Pakistani officials offered no immediate response. *AP