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India says Pakistan attitude unchanged on militants

2/01/2009 - 14:23

By Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's defence minister said on Friday Pakistan was still failing to crack down on militants blamed for the Mumbai attacks, and that New Delhi had not deployed troops despite tension with its neighbour.

India has been mobilising support across the world to press Pakistan to crack down on militant networks there which have been blamed for November attacks in Mumbai that left 179 people dead.

New Delhi says it has repeatedly provided Islamabad with evidence of use of Pakistani soil by militants, but Pakistani authorities have rejected those claims, saying the proof was not credible.

"I don't think (there is) any noticeable change in the attitude of Pakistan," Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony told reporters in New Delhi.

"Statements are not important, actions are important. They have to prove by their action."

"When more than 30 terrorist outfits are still operating in Pakistan, how can I say there is a real improvement or real change in attitude?" Antony added.

Pakistan launched raids on militants on its soil after the Mumbai attacks and detained several Islamist leaders wanted by India. But India said it was not satisfied and Pakistan needed to do more to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

Pakistan, which has in the past used militants to further foreign policy objectives, said it was taking all requisite steps to counter terrorism and was awaiting a response to its offer to work with India in the investigation.

"There is no terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan. Terrorism is a global issue. Terrorist elements are found in every society," the Foreign Ministry said in a release.

Asked about Indian accusations that Pakistan was in a state of denial over its links to the attack, the ministry said it did not want to indulge in a "blame-game."

"The two countries need to demonstrate restraint and responsibility," it said.

"JUST A RUMOUR"

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a leader of the banned Pakistani militant group that India has blamed for the Mumbai attack, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had confessed to Pakistani interrogators that he was a main planner.

The government has rejected the report saying its investigation was not finished.

"It's just rumour. Our investigation hasn't been finalised so how could its finding be shared?" said Interior Ministry official Kamal Shah.

The LeT too dismissed the report, saying India had failed to prove the involvement of any of its members in the Mumbai attacks.

"It has now become clear that America is putting pressure on Pakistan's government to manufacture the evidence, and then also take action on the basis of this 'evidence' too, in order to please India," an LeT statement said on Friday.

The LeT was set up by Pakistani security agencies in the late 1980s to fight Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region but officially banned in 2002, after Pakistan signed up to the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.

Tension between the nuclear-armed rivals has mounted with near-daily exchanges of tough words and flexing of military muscles.

Pakistan has cancelled army leave and moved a "limited number" of soldiers off the Afghan border "for defensive measures," urging India to stand down its troops and deactivate forward air bases.

But India has said it was not making any war-time deployment.

Asked if India had given any deadline by which Pakistan has to act, Antony said: "There is no time limit ... Only thing is they must act. Action is important."

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 -- two of them over Kashmir -- and came to the brink of a fourth after gunmen attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001.

Violence in Kashmir, claimed both by India and Pakistan but ruled only in part, has fallen significantly since the two countries began peace talks in 2004. The talks have been paused by India after the Mumbai attacks.

Two Indian soldiers and six Muslim militants were killed in separate firefights in Kashmir, which held peaceful state elections last month, security officials said on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq in Kashmir; Editing by Sugita Katyal)


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