India Blames Pakistan Militant Group for Parliament Attack
Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said, ”India has technical evidence that yesterday’s terrorist attack on Parliament House was not just against the symbol of Indian democracy and the sovereignty of the Indian people, that it was the handiwork of a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.”
The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, an Islamic militant group that fights for the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir, denied involvement in the attack that left 12 people dead.
“It’s a pack of lies,” Yahya Mujahid, spokesman for the Lakshar-e-Tayyaba, said in Islamabad. “The attack was sponsored by India itself. The whole drama was staged to malign Kashmir’s Islamic groups and to involve Pakistan.”
Six policemen and a gardener were killed when five gunmen armed with AK-47s and explosives stormed the parliament building. All five assailants, who drove into the parliament complex in a car with government markings, were also killed during a 30-minute gunfight.
India is demanding that Pakistan halt the activities and freeze the funds of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, another militant Kashmir separatist group accused of orchestrating an October suicide attack against the Jammu-Kashmir state legislature that killed 40 people. The Jaish-e-Mohammad took credit for the October attack, but then later denied involvement.
Both organizations are on the United States’ “terrorist exclusion list” that restricts visas for members.
“Pakistan has asserted that it is with the rest of the international community in combating terrorism and that it does not promote terrorism,” Singh said, referring to Pakistan’s support for the U.S. war on terrorism. “We expect Pakistan will abide with what it says itself.”
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf condemned yesterday’s attack immediately after it happened.
“I was shocked to learn about the attack earlier today by armed intruders,” Musharraf said Thursday. “I have been saddened by the loss of life and the injuries suffered by Indian security personnel in the attack.”
Pakistani officials say that will not make arrests until they have evidence of the group’s culpability.
“Pakistan is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said. “President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the government have already condemned the incident. Simply issuing a statement [without providing evidence] is not enough.”
India is refusing to reveal the evidence implicating the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
“No country reveals its methodology of gathering evidence,” Singh said.
More than 100 parliament members met Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today to demand that India attack and destroy militant camps in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
The cabinet issued a pledge Thursday saying, “We will liquidate the terrorists and their sponsors, wherever they are, whoever they are.”
Denying accusations that it harbors terrorists, Pakistani officials warned India of dire consequences if it retaliated against Pakistan.
“India seems to be making efforts to create tension by blaming Pakistan,” a Pakistani government spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, said. “India will pay heavily if they engage in any misadventure.”
More than a dozen guerrilla groups are fighting India’s rule over about 45 percent of Kashmir. Pakistan controls about 35 percent of the Himalayan territory, and China holds the rest.
Two out of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since independence in 1947 have been over Kashmir.
India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring and funding the Islamic militants fighting for control of Kashmir. Pakistan says it supports their cause, but denies providing any aid.