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We need to tighten intelligence gathering: PM

Renu Mittal On Board the Prime Minister's Aircraft | September 29, 2008 08:44 IST

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Conceeding that intelligence, investigation and prosecution processes needed to be tightened, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] asserted that the war against terror will continue.

Reacting for the first time to the bomb blast in the Mehrauli flower market in Delhi [Images], the prime minister said what had happened was most "unfortunate" and that his heart went out to those who had died and suffered injuries.

He said he could not say from this distance who was responsible for this "outrage", but that it once again demonstrates that "we have to tighten our intelligence gathering, strengthen our investigation and prosecution processes."

"We cannot give up our fight against terror, our resoluteness which is necessary to deal with this menace," Dr Singh added.

There has been continued concern within the Prime Minister's Office that the government has not been able to handle the terror attacks, with the government now increasing its efforts to get on top of the situation.

It is learnt that National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, who is a member of the prime minister's official delegation to both US and France [Images], spent over seven and a half hours with senior homeland security officials on Saturday.

The officials, including the director, had flown down specially from Washington for a meeting with the NSA where he is learnt to have taken a detailed brief on the measures adopted by the US homeland security in tackling and curbing terror.

It is significant to mention that the Indian government is particularly impressed by the fact that there have been no further terror strikes in the US since 9/11, whereas in India a series of bomb blasts have been set off in various parts of the country with the intelligence agencies and the home ministry no nearer to pining down the source of the strikes.

Sources concede that during the high powered discussions, which took place with senior US intelliegence officials all aspects of security were reviewed though the Indian government does admit that the laws in the US are much more draconian than the laws in India.

There is a vertical split within the government and the Congress over how much tougher the terror laws need to get.

In this context it is also pertinent to add the committment given by Pakistan President Zardari to the Indian prime minister in a meeting between the two where the president said he would root out terror and honour the January 2004 agreement between the two countries.

A senior official in the PMO admitted that what Zardari said was music to their ears though there was uncertainty on how far Zardari would be able to implement the promises he was making.

It is being taken in a positive spirit by the Indians who see it as a great step forward particularly as it has been put in the joint statement after the meeting.

Even though Zardari in the meeting himself claimed to be only a 14-day president, Indian officials concede that he appeared keen to improve Indo-Pakistan relations. 

Sources said the prime minister did not push President Zardari on to a time frame when he can deliver or even to "put him in the dock" with the complicated Pakistan situation being closely watched.

There is increasing pressure on Dr Singh and his government to deliver vis-�-vis Pakistan and the terror attacks as assembly and then a general election are around the corner.

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