Pakistan has begun a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba following intense pressure from India and the United States to take action against the militant group blamed by New Delhi for the Mumbai attacks. According to intelligence officials and local residents, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, was arrested following a raid on a camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-held Kashmir.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India’s response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Pakistan to cooperate “fully and transparently” in investigations into the Mumbai attacks, while U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has pointed a finger at Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant group.
By Robert Birsel and Zeeshan Haider
Pakistan’s Taliban have indignantly criticised what they said were India’s “unfounded” threats against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai assault and they vowed to rally to the defence of the country in the event of an Indian attack.
“If they dared to attack Pakistan then, God willing, we will share the happiness and grief with all Pakistanis,” said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.
“We will put the animosity and fighting with the Pakistani army behind us and the Taliban will defend their frontiers, their boundaries, their country with their weapons.
The language is deliberate, the signals unmistakable: India is turning up the heat on Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks that have killed at least 195 people, and there is no knowing where this downward spiral in ties between the uneasy neighbours will end.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group with “external linkages” for coordinated attacks which killed more than 100 people in Mumbai. The language was reminiscent of the darker days of India-Pakistan relations when India always saw a Pakistan hand in militant attacks, blaming groups it said were set up by Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to seek revenge for Pakistan’s defeat by India in the 1971 war.
In the absence of any claims, and a denial of involvement by the main local separatist group, the Indian media is are starting to point the finger at a Bangladeshi militant Islamist group for Thursday’s multiple bombings that left 65 left dead and more than 300 wounded in Assam state.
Pakistan has replaced the head of its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, following months of questions from the United States about its reliability in the battle against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, formerly head of military operations, will replace Lieutenant-General Nadeem Taj.
Just two days after a suicide bomb attack on the Marriott killed 53 people in the heart of Islamabad, there were reports of trouble both on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and on the Line of Control with India.
One of the questions that repeatedly came up during Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s rather eventful trip to the U.S. last month was who was in charge of the Inter-Services Intelligence , especially after the botched attempt to bring the powerful spy agency - that critics see as a state within a state – under the interior ministry.