Zardari urges united stand
- Zardari urges united stand
By Farhan Bokhari in London, James Lamont in New Delhi and Joe Leahy in
Published: November 30 2008 19:41 | Last updated: November 30 2008 19:41
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, made an urgent appeal to India
on Sunday not to punish his country for the terror unleashed on Mumbai
last week, warning that militants had the power to precipitate a war in
As the government in New Delhi faced mounting domestic recriminations
after the three-day terrorist rampage in Mumbai, Mr Zardari urged
Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, to resist striking out at his
government should investigations show that Pakistani militant groups
were responsible for the attacks.
Speaking exclusively to the Financial Times, Pakistan’s president warned
that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a
return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-i-tayyaba, [a prominent
militant group linked to previous attacks against India] who do you
think we are fighting?” asked Mr Zardari, whose country is battling
al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its shared border with Afghanistan.
“We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war
before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated [the] 9/11
[attacks on the US] or contributed to the escalation of the situation in
Iraq,” said Mr Zardari.
“Now, events in Mumbai tell us that there are ongoing efforts to carry
out copycat attacks by militants. We must all stand together to fight
out this menace.”
The Indian government was on Sunday under intense pressure to respond
aggressively to the attacks, which claimed at least 192 lives in a
rampage by a team of well-organised terrorists. India’s security was
being taken to “war level”, Sriprakash Jaiswal, the minister of state
for home affairs told Reuters.
Shivraj Patil, home minister, resigned for failing to stem the violence
that has swept India this year as criticism intensified during the
weekend over the response of the security forces to the attack on
India’s financial capital. Mumbai had been struck twice before – the
last occasion two years ago – but opposition politicians and
businesspeople said lessons had not been learned.
“The Congress government has no moral authority to survive,” said Arun
Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata
party, blaming its weakness for collapsed intelligence gathering and a
poor security response to the terror strike.
The Mumbai attacks ended on Saturday when commandos killed the last
gunmen holed up at the city’s Taj Mahal hotel.
Some of the most stinging criticism of the response of the emergency
services came from business. “The police were woefully inadequate in
terms of equipment and in terms of being prepared,” said Ratan Tata,
chairman of the Tata Group that owns the Taj Mahal hotel. He said fire
engines took three hours to arrive.
One former guest of the Taj hotel said security was “non-existent” and
that five or six points of public access made it highly vulnerable.
PRS Oberoi, chairman of the Oberoi Group, said the majority of people
killed at the Trident-Oberoi, were shot in the first 30 minutes – the
time it took the police to arrive.
Mr Singh’s office said Palaniappan Chidambaram, finance minister, would
replace Shivraj Patil as home minister.
Additional reporting by James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008