Pakistan Strengthens Response To Mumbai Attacks
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Pakistan's government faces one big question: whether it's doing enough in response to a terror attack. The government is responding to the recent strikes on India's financial capital, Mumbai. The gunmen allegedly came from Pakistan. And Pakistani security forces have raided a training camp run by a group suspected in those attacks. The alleged mastermind is in custody.
Pakistan's president published an article in today's New York Times. He says the terror attack also harmed Pakistan and its peace process with India. So now we will put that big question to NPR's Philip Reeves. He's covering this story from India's capital, New Delhi. And Philip, does India think that Pakistan is doing enough?
PHILIP REEVES: No, it doesn't. And it's been rather skeptical about the claims that the Pakistanis have been making about what they're doing. In fact, officials are privately saying that nothing has officially been communicated to the government of India about the raid that was carried out that you mentioned. And so they're saying that until they're contacted officially by the Pakistanis, they have no official reaction.
They're also going to want firm proof that the people who were arrested in that raid, in particular a guy called Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who's alleged to be a senior commander of the group Lashkar-e-Taiba - which is being accused of carrying out these attacks - that he's in custody and that he's going to stay there. They feel that the Pakistanis have in the past carried out arrests and then later freed people.
INSKEEP: What else does India want out of Pakistan?
REEVES: Well, it has formally renewed, actually, a longstanding request that the Pakistani authorities hand over about 20 people who are wanted for serious offenses in India. These include Dawood Ibrahim. The Indians say he's the mastermind of a multiple bombing attack in Mumbai in 1993. Again, the Indians are saying that this was a formal request, but the Pakistanis haven't responded to it. However, they are reading reports in the press that say that Pakistan won't be complying with this demand because there's no extradition treaty between India and Pakistan. So this issue will continue to be a source of friction, I'm sure.
INSKEEP: So we have Pakistan and India arguing amongst themselves and also before a key player, the United States, with this article in the New York Times by Pakistan's president, you're saying. India is dissatisfied with Pakistan's moves. Does that lead to the possibility, Philip, that India could take some kind of military action on its own against what it sees as a security threat across the border?
REEVES: Well, the other day, the foreign minister of India said that no options are being ruled out. And that remains the official position. Now, as you know, the U.S. fires missiles from unmanned drones at suspected militant targets inside Pakistan's tribal belt. It's theoretically possible that we'll see India targeting suspected bases belonging to Islamist groups inside Pakistan also.
However, the Indians are unlikely to be in any doubt that if they do this, there's a risk that the Pakistanis will redirect their forces towards the perceived Indian threat and away from the battle against the Taliban in the northwest. And that would expose India to possible accusations of undermining the international and, of course, the American efforts to win the war in Afghanistan.
INSKEEP: In this opinion article, Philip, Pakistan's president seems to be concerned that the Indian public is going to pressure India's government into some kind of rash action. How much pressure is there?
REEVES: There are some in the corridors of power and among the public who do want India to attack militant camps in Pakistan. How broadly felt it is across this diverse country is hard to say. However, yesterday we got the results of five regional elections in India. The Congress Party that heads the federal coalition government did unexpectedly well.
Congress is often accused by its political opponents of being soft on terrorism. However, these results suggest that people voted on local and economic issues and not in a panic or in anger about the Mumbai attacks. So that may mean that the pressure on the government to do something militarily isn't as considerable as some have portrayed it.
INSKEEP: Philip, thanks.
REEVES: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: NPR's Philip Reeves is in New Delhi covering one of the major stories this morning.