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Pak may now see India's point on terrorism

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | December 29, 2003 16:22 IST

The involvement of a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist in the Christmas day attack on General Pervez Musharraf could lend a new urgency to Pakistan's crackdown on militant groups and ease its rigid position on Kashmir, several officials in the Indian government believe.

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The attack, they point out, has proven right repeated Indian warnings that Kashmiri militant groups are linked to the Al Qaeda and other global jihadi groups and are a threat to a modern Pakistan.

Officials are now sounding more optimistic than ever that Pakistan's rhetoric on curtailing terrorism will turn into more concrete action.

Jameel, a militant trained in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Afghanistan, was one of the suicide bombers involved in the attack on Musharraf.

"We have for long been warning of the home-grown Kashmiri militants being a major threat to the Pakistan State. We hope President Musharraf now wouldn't be looking for any further proof," an official involved in Pakistan affairs said.

There is widespread belief in the Indian establishment today that the attack on Musharraf could force him into adopting a more proactive policy in curtailing infiltration into Kashmir. "Probably the attack could help the Pakistan establishment in better understanding links that we have been saying exist between Kashmiri militancy and international jihad," an army officer said.

Despite the optimism, the establishment is not sounding any lenient on bilateral talks, saying no bilateral meetings have yet been fixed with the Pakistani leadership during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Islamabad in January next year to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit. "Even if a meeting takes place, we would insist with the fact that end to cross-border infiltration is must for any meaningful forward movement," an officer, who will accompany the prime minister to Pakistan, said.

Elaborate preparations are underway in New Delhi to ensure foolproof security for the prime minister, whose immediate security ring in Islamabad will comprise of Special Protection Group personnel.

India will be sending a team of about 50 security personnel, mostly SPG men, besides an array of equipment such as
jammers and bulletproof cars for the prime minister's security. A senior SPG official is already in Pakistan to review the security arrangements and coordinate with Pakistan agencies.

In the wake of the attack on Musharraf, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra had held consultations with senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs and intelligence and security agencies to consider if Vajpayee's visit should be cancelled.

It was concluded that India should not pull out at this late juncture and scuttle the SAARC summit.


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