x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Zardari promises 'strong action' on Mumbai attacks

The Pakistan president pledges to take a tough stance on any group from his country found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks.

ISLAMABAD // The Pakistan president Asif Ali Zadari has promised to take "strong action" against any group from his country found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks. Mr Zardari told the the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice he had asked India to see this as a chance to work together rather than be at odds with one another, and said: "I intend to do everything in my power." "The government will not only assist in investigations but also take strong action against any Pakistani elements found involved in the attack," a statement quoted Mr Zadari.

"Pakistan is determined to ensure that its territory is not used for any act of terrorism." Ms Rice visited Islamabad today to urge Pakistan to take a hard line on terrorism after last week's attacks in Mumbai. In a delicate balancing act, Ms Rice met Indian leaders a day earlier in New Delhi, where she called for restraint in a bid to curb tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours. "The global threat of extremism and terrorism has to be met by all states, taking a very tough and hard line, and so that is what I am going to discuss," Ms Rice told reporters travelling with her from New Delhi to Islamabad.

India has blamed groups based on Pakistani territory for the attack by a band of gunmen which killed 171 people in India's commercial capital. US officials have also blamed groups based wholly or partially in Pakistan. "Pakistan has to determine its own response here. It just needs to be a robust response and it needs to be effective," Ms Rice said. "This was a terrible attack and it can't be allowed to happen again," she told the foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Before meeting Mr Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the leaders of an eight-month-old civilian government in Islamabad, Ms Rice first met army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani at army headquarters in nearby Rawalpindi. Traffic was blocked and no people were in sight aside from security personnel lining roadsides as Rice's motorcade passed through two cities living under constant threat of attacks by militants linked to the Taliban and al Qa'eda. How much leverage the United States, particularly the outgoing Bush administration, has over Pakistan is debatable. Withholding financial or military support could add to instability in the country.