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As Thousands Protest Indian Government, Rice Tells Pakistan to Aid Attacks Probe

BY Admin  December 3, 2008 at 3:00 PM EDT

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; file photo

In a joint news conference with Rice in New Delhi,
Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “there is no doubt the terrorist
attacks in Mumbai were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and
whose controllers are in Pakistan.”

Rice traveled to the region as part of a U.S. effort
to ease tensions after a three-day terrorist attack killed more than 170 people
in India’s financial capital. She said the United States expects all
“responsible governments” to help with the investigation and
“Pakistan has a special responsibility to do so and to do so
transparently, urgently and fully.”

“The responsibility of the Pakistani government
should be one of cooperation and of action,” she said.

Mukherjee vowed to bring the militant leaders to
justice.

“The government of India is determined to act
decisively to protect Indian territorial integrity and the right of our
citizens to a peaceful life with all the means at our disposal,” he said,
according to the Associated Press.

Rice assured Mukherjee: “We are going to work
very closely with you in any way you can to try to get to the bottom of what
happened and then help you act on that.”

She was asked at one point if the United States
believes the al-Qaida was involved.

“Let me be very clear: We are not saying
al-Qaida is the perpetrator here,” she replied. ” … There are
elements of this – the sophistication of it – that remind us that these
extremists … that they are perhaps learning from each other, they move in the
same circles. But clearly the sophistication of the attack was what I was
addressing.”

Some 20,000 people took to the streets to protest
against India’s political leaders and police. The vast crowd included
accountants in business suits, Muslim housewives in headscarves and long robes,
students in tank-tops and shopkeepers. Many said they had never taken part in a
public demonstration before.

Several protesters said corruption — long viewed
here with resigned apathy — allowed repeated attacks to take place, accusing
police and politicians of being more interested in collecting bribes than doing
their jobs, the Agence France-Presse reported.

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that FBI
agents are assisting Indian police to gather evidence about the attacks.

“The FBI is looking into any evidence it can
get,” Mukasey told reporters at the Justice Department, according to
Reuters. Other U.S. officials have said the FBI is part of a team investigating
the attacks.

Mukasey said he believes the United States has
jurisdiction in cases of violence against Americans in connection with acts of
terrorism. Six Americans were killed in the attacks at two luxury hotels and
other landmarks.

Mukasey said he did not yet have enough details to
say whether any charges eventually would be brought in the United States.

Also on Wednesday, police found explosives hidden in
a bag in Mumbai’s main train station, which they said were left over from last
week’s attacks.

While searching 150 bags at the station, police
found one that looked suspicious and called the bomb squad. They found two
bombs of 8.8 pounds each inside and defused them, Assistant Commissioner of
Police Bapu Domre said.

The news comes as Indian authorities face a growing
wave of criticism about intelligence failures and bungled security that allowed
10 gunmen to terrorize India’s largest city for 60 hours. It was immediately
clear why the bombs hadn’t been found earlier.

Authorities reopened Chhatrapati Shivaji train
station, a main hub of Mumbai’s public transit, and declared it safe Thursday
morning, hours after the gunmen sprayed it with gunfire in one of their first
attacks.

Pakistan has condemned the assault, denied any
involvement by state agencies and vowed to work with India in the
investigation.

Nevertheless, the attack has sparked fears that the
nuclear-armed neighbors could slide toward a fourth war since independence from
Britain in 1947 unless cool heads prevail. A confrontation would undermine
U.S.-led efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and defeat al-Qaida.

Pakistan rejects suggestions its security agencies
support militants fighting Indian forces in disputed Kashmir. They did back
Kashmiri militants through the 1990s but began to rein them in after the Sept.
11 attacks on the United States.

India will not respond to attacks in Mumbai by
sending troops to the border with Pakistan, but will instead mobilize global
pressure for its neighbor to act decisively against Islamist militants,
analysts told Reuters. The military strategy was tried in 2001 and 2002 after
an attack on India’s parliament, but achieved little.

The crucial difference this time is that India is
dealing with a civilian, democratically elected government in Islamabad — a more
receptive leadership that appears to lack full control over a much more
hostile, hawkish military establishment.

Military confrontation, however tempting as Indian
elections loom ever closer, would only empower the hawks across the border.

“It is simply not on the table,” Siddharth
Varadarajan, strategic affairs editor of the Hindu newspaper said.

“If India were to take any of the military
measures some armchair analysts want, that would almost certainly play into the
hands of the military establishment in Pakistan.”

It would also have played into the hands of the
Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, by forcing Pakistan to withdraw troops
from its tribal areas and western border.

Speaking to reporters earlier Wednesday, Rice
suggested that the U.S. is especially alarmed by the careful targeting and
efficiency displayed in the Mumbai attacks and said “this is a different
situation.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, flew in for talks with Pakistan’s 8-month-old civilian government and
military commanders earlier on Wednesday, as part of U.S. diplomatic efforts to
defuse tension.

Mullen urged Pakistani officials to
“investigate aggressively any and all possible ties to groups based in
Pakistan”, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that
U.S. and British citizens were the targets of the violent siege in Mumbai last
week, although most of those killed in India’s financial capital were from
India.

The same group that carried out last week’s attack
is believed to be behind the 2006 Mumbai train bombings that killed more than
200, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said Tuesday during a speech
at Harvard University.

McConnell did not identify the group by name.
However, the Indian government has attributed the 2006 attack to
Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist group based in Kashmir, and the Students
Islamic Movement of India.

McConnell is the first U.S. official to publicly
identify Lashkar as the possible perpetrator. Earlier Tuesday, a senior State
Department official told reporters only that evidence suggests that the brutal,
prolonged attack had some roots in Pakistan.