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December 21, 2001
0330 IST

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India ups the ante by recalling envoy in Pakistan

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

In a clear worsening of bilateral relations, India on Friday decided to recall its high commissioner for Pakistan following Islamabad's refusal to initiate action against the terrorist groups responsible for the December 13 attack on Parliament House.

External affairs ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told stunned reporters that the decision came in the wake of Pakistan's reluctance to initiate action against the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, whom the government blames for the attack.

Significantly, Rao refused to take any questions on the issue, telling reporters they were free to draw any conclusion they liked.

"Our recalling our high commissioner in Islamabad is a clear indication that Indo-Pak relations have plummeted to their nadir," a senior official on the ministry's Pakistan desk, said. "India just cannot sit idly by when it has concrete, incontrovertible proof about the involvement of the LeT and the JeM in the attack in our Parliament on December 13. This development is serious," a senior official attached to the ministry's Pakistan desk said.

He pointed out that unless "something else intervenes" the neighbours might well be moving towards a confrontation.

India has also decided to cancel the Samjhauta Express train service between New Delhi and Lahore from January 1, 2002. The bus service between the two cities, started with fanfare during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan in February 1999, is also being terminated.

Defence ministry officials remained tightlipped, refusing to comment on the developments.

Sreedhar, an analyst with the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, felt that "in a nutshell, Christmas and New Year for both India and Pakistan appear to be tense. Given the latest developments, a confrontation cannot be ruled out."

India recalls high commissioner for Pakistan

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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