NEW DELHI, Oct 19: India on Friday strongly condemned the assassination attempt on a former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in separate letters to her and President Gen Pervez Musharraf conveyed his condolences on the loss of life in the Karachi bomb attacks.
While Dr Singh’s letters condemned “terrorism and extremism in all its forms,” the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mr Lal Kishan Advani, rang up Ms Bhutto to personally express his solidarity with her.
India’s foreign ministry spokesman expressed outrage and anger felt in the country.
“We strongly condemn the terrorist attack in Karachi yesterday. It is reprehensible that senior political figures are targeted in this way with such loss of innocent life. The spectre of terrorism confronting our region requires strong and determined action by all our governments,” the spokesman said.
In a statement to the media, Mr Advani’s comment contained veiled criticism of Gen Musharraf. He said: “It is an irony that, at a time when tall claims are being made about Pakistan’s democratisation, one former prime minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was recently prevented from returning to his own country and another former prime minister, Ms Bhutto, has been ‘greeted’ by a terrorist attack on her arrival.”
Mr Advani said he was aghast at the news of the attack which showed “that the perpetrators of this barbaric act wanted to inflict maximum damage on an event that held the promise of the return of democracy in Pakistan. I am relieved that Ms Bhutto has survived this bid on her life.”
Pakistan’s stability and progress, as also the normalisation of India-Pakistan relations, are best guaranteed by the establishment of genuine democracy in that country, combined with a resolute fight against religious extremism and terrorism, Mr Advani said.
A PTI report said Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Mr Satyabrata Pal met Ms Bhutto on Friday and called for determined action by all governments against terrorism in the region.
“We are horrified by the loss of innocent life caused by the terrorist attack on your convoy and the injuries to some of your senior colleagues. We are relieved that you yourself are unhurt. We look forward to working with you to defeat terrorism in all its forms,’’ Mr Pal told Ms Bhutto.