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Pakistan Under Pressure as Mumbai Fallout Continues

December 4, 2008 at 6:30 PM EDT
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With pressure increasing on Pakistan to play a wider role in the investigation of the attacks in Mumbai, India, Margaret Warner updates the latest developments and speaks with Simon Marks, who is reporting from India, on the overall security situation in the country.

RAY SUAREZ: Pakistan comes under pressure after the Mumbai terror attacks. We start with Margaret Warner.

MARGARET WARNER: Today it was Islamabad. Handshakes, photo-ops, and meetings on the second stop on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s mission to ease rising tensions between Pakistan and India.

Last week’s terror siege in Mumbai — India’s financial center — left more than 170 people dead. India has linked some of the attackers to Pakistan.

While in New Delhi yesterday, Rice called on Pakistan to cooperate fully in the investigation. Today she said she secured its commitment to do so.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. Secretary of State: I found a Pakistani leadership that is very focused and, I think, very committed to — for its own reasons, because Pakistan has been a victim in the war, a victim of these terrorist elements — very committed to acting.

And Pakistan is going to investigate the circumstances, investigate what may have happened to support in any way the — the effort — in the attacks in Mumbai.

MARGARET WARNER: The only alleged attacker to survive reportedly told Indian investigators that he was trained in Pakistan by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri separatist group that’s officially banned there.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari downplayed the suspect’s links to his country. He spoke earlier this week on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

ASIF ALI ZARDARI, President, Pakistan: Not as yet. We have not been given any tangible proof to say that he is definitely a Pakistani. I very much doubt, Larry, that he’s a Pakistani.

MARGARET WARNER: Ahead of Rice’s visit, some 2,000 students demonstrated in Islamabad.

SHABBIR SALEEM (through translator): It is our demand that the government of Pakistan should deal with America and India bravely. We will not hesitate to give our lives to protect the country.

MARGARET WARNER: But there were counter voices, too.

CHUDHRY JAHNGIR (through translator): The government of Pakistan should cooperate fully with India, as peace is necessary for this region.

MARGARET WARNER: Pakistan also came under pressure in Washington this week from a bipartisan commission warning of a likely attack on the United States in the next five years by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.

Former Republican Senator Jim Talent co-chaired the group.

FORMER SEN. JIM TALENT (R), Missouri: Pakistan is the epicenter of a lot of these dangers, and not just of terrorism, but also of the potential use by nation-states of nuclear weapons, because there’s a budding arms race between Pakistan and India in that area.

MARGARET WARNER: The report warned that the next terror attack on the United States was most likely to originate from Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Growing pressure on Pakistan

MARGARET WARNER: In India, there was a new security alert today. I talked about that and the growing Indian pressure on Pakistan with special correspondent Simon Marks.

Simon, Secretary of State Rice in Islamabad today said she found the Pakistani leadership very focused on the threat, committed to investigating, even rounding up whoever there might have been behind the attacks.

What's been the reaction in India to that?

SIMON MARKS, NewsHour Special Correspondent: Well, I think there's a degree of confusion here, because they argue here that they've heard two very different messages from the Pakistanis over the course of just 48 hours, now a message of commitment to battling terrorism, where just yesterday they were hearing a message that suggested that President Asif Ali Zardari was saying Pakistan had no culpability in the attacks against Mumbai and that no proof had been presented to him to suggest that Pakistanis were responsible for those attacks.

So they are obviously more pleased with the message that they're hearing from Islamabad now, but they are still treating all of this with a very considerable degree of skepticism.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, there were widespread reports that, after his election in September, but before these attacks, the new Pakistani president, Zardari, had made overtures to India seeking ways to improve the relationship. How did those look from India's side?

SIMON MARKS: Well, from India's side, they were more hopeful than they had been in a good long while. This goes back to October, when President Zardari gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal and, for the first time, used the word "terrorists" to describe some of the Kashmiri militant separatists operating on Pakistani soil.

He caught a lot of flak at home in Pakistan for using that word, but here in India, it was music to the government's ears. So they did feel as though they were in a position to have a more proactive, perhaps productive relationship with his government than they've been able to enjoy with the government of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Then, of course, came the attacks on Mumbai. And now, of course, we see increased tension between Delhi and Islamabad. And it's not clear whether there is a path that takes them back to the more productive discussion that they hoped they were going to be about to have.

Anger and alertness in India

MARGARET WARNER: Meanwhile, today, is public anger against Pakistan still in evidence in India? Does it seem to be building or abating?

SIMON MARKS: It's certainly not abating. I mean, it's very much in evidence. We ran into it again today. We took a trip out of Mumbai to India's fifth-largest city of Ahmedabad, which is about an hour's flight from here.

And wherever we went there -- and that's hundreds of miles away from Mumbai -- we encountered people saying that they wanted to see very tough action taken by India against Pakistan in light of the attacks on Mumbai.

Tonight, Indian television stations are beginning to report suggestions that President Asif Ali Zardari has indicated that he may be willing to move against the Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders situated on Pakistani soil. That may go some of the way to assuaging some of the anger that's being directed in Pakistan's direction from here, but there's an awful lot of anger out there to assuage.

MARGARET WARNER: Finally, the Indian government said today it put airports on high alert after fresh warnings of possible terror attacks. You flew today. Was everything battened down?

SIMON MARKS: Well, it was not as battened down as Indian government officials suggested that it was going to be. We left Mumbai this morning shortly after that alert was issued by the Indian authorities.

We flew to Ahmedabad, spent the day there, and then flew back here. At no point at either airport was any of us asked to produce photo identification before boarding an airplane.

Our bags -- which, as you know, Margaret, from the travels that we've done together -- are laden down with batteries, cables, fuses, light bulbs, all sorts of things that usually attract the attention of baggage inspectors.

Well, they put them through the scanners. They went through the conveyor belt. We were given the bags back. Nobody opened them to take a look at them. We were told tonight that Mumbai airport is on red alert. We certainly didn't see any indication that that was the case when we traveled today.

MARGARET WARNER: Well, Simon, thanks so much. And travel safely.

SIMON MARKS: Thanks, Margaret.