Wednesday, 03 December 2008

Rice Consoles Indians, Admonishes Pakistanis

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Condoleezza RiceSpeaking to reporters in New Delhi, India, on December 3, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that Pakistan must act "fully and transparently" in efforts to bring the terrorists responsible for the deaths of at least 188 people in Mumbai — India's financial capital — to justice.

"Pakistan has a special responsibility to do so," BBC news quoted Rice. (See BBC's videotaped coverage of the Secretary.) Rice interrupted a visit to Europe to travel to India amidst the crisis stemming from the Mumbai attacks. Pakistani officials said that they also expect her to visit Islamabad.

After meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Secretary Rice and Mukherjee addressed members of the press, stating: "This is the time for everybody to co-operate and do so transparently, and this is especially a time for Pakistan to do so." But Rice also cautioned India against taking actions that would provoke "unintended consequences," warning that "any response needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention."

During the press conference, a transcript of which is posted on the State Department website, Secretary Rice expressed the condolences of the people of the United States to the people of India, particularly to the people of Mumbai. In view of the attacks, she said "we have to act with urgency, we have to act with resolve. I have said that Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency and cooperate fully and transparently. That message has been delivered and will be delivered to Pakistan."

In response to Rice's statement that "the attacks were clearly targeted to send a message about India, about its integration into the world," a reporter from CNN-IBN asked her if she saw an al-Qaeda hand in the attacks. Rice answered:

Well, whether there is a direct al-Qaida hand or not, this is clearly the kind of terrorism in which al-Qaida participates. It's a sense that you want to not just terrorize in a general sense, but you try and send a strong message that people are not safe, that businesses are not safe, that economic centers are not safe. We experienced that in New York. We are not going to jump to any conclusions about who is responsible for this, although the United States is prepared and is already actively engaged in information sharing, in forensic help, to try and make those links. Because what is important now is, of course, to go to the source and to know what happened, to follow every lead, wherever it may lead, and to bring those to justice who did this. But it is also important in counterterrorism work to use what you find to prevent further attacks, because it is really a kind of unfair fight for particularly democratic states. The terrorists only have to be right once; you have to be right 100 percent of the time. That's a very, very daunting task.

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And we've learned a lot over the last seven years since September 11th about the importance of activities that prevent. Because you can't be in a situation in which you act as if, in law enforcement, they commit the act and then they're punished. The long pole in the tent here is prevention, and so any work that I hope to do with the Indian officials is to talk about what we can contribute in terms of knowing how to use information, how to use leads toward prevention. That now has to be number one. Yes, these people have to be brought to justice for the terrible things that they did, but number one needs to be to try to prevent another attack. Because I can tell you that some seven and a half years after 9/11, we know that there are people who are still plotting and planning every day to try to bring up another successful attack.

Sue Pleming from Reuters news service noted that the Indians had handed over to Pakistan a list of 20 fugitives that they would like Pakistan to deal with or to turn over and then asked Rice:  "What do you think Pakistan's response should be at this time in order to ease tensions between the two countries?"

Rice replied: "Well, first of all, the Pakistani Government has said unequivocally that it intends to cooperate. And President [Asif Ali] Zardari has told me that he will follow the leads wherever they go, and I think that is a very important commitment on the part of Pakistan."

In her report for Reuters, however, Pleming wrote that President Zardari told CNN that he had been given no tangible proof that the surviving gunman was a Pakistani, that he doubted the Indian claim, and that Zardari indicated he would not accept an Indian demand to hand over 20 of India's most wanted men that it says are living in Pakistan.

In his December 2 interview with CNN's Larry King, Zardari  said: "At the moment, these are just names of individuals — no proof and no investigation. If we had the proof, we would try them in our courts and we would try them in our land and we would sentence them."