NEW DELHI, Feb 3: The recent terror attacks in Mumbai have destroyed all the gains of years of peace talks between India and Pakistan, India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Tuesday, warning that unbridled violence threatened the very survival of Pakistan and wider stability in the region.
His comments came as Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee yet again complained that Pakistan had not yet officially told India anything about the progress on New Delhi’s dossier on the Mumbai attacks.
Mr Mukherjee seemed to contradict remarks by National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan that Pakistan had twice reverted to New Delhi for clarifications on the Indian dossier.
“That the major attacks of large magnitude can be planned and executed by elements in Pakistan totally undermines the solemn commitments to us made by its leadership that territory in its control would not be permitted to be used for terrorism,” Mr Antony told a two-day conference on Asian security he inaugurated here.
“The positive gains of the past years have been destroyed by the dastardly attack on Mumbai. The onus now is on the government of Pakistan to act with sincerity and decisiveness against the perpetrators and controllers of such attacks. It is in the interest of this region and the rest of the world that such perpetrators of wanton violence are brought to justice and the infrastructure of terror is eliminated.”
Mr Antony said the onus was equally on the international community to act, a comment that sounded like advice for a stepped up military campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“This Frankenstein is now a threat to democracy, stability and peace in Afghanistan and to Pakistan itself. The international community needs to act decisively and in concert to get rid of this scourge. We sincerely hope that this approach would be the way ahead. As a victim of terrorism, we must remain committed to safeguarding the lives of our nationals and to taking all the necessary steps to enhance and safeguard our security.”
The Mumbai attacks signified the systematic use of terrorism and irregular warfare as state policy aimed at India. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the nature of war and conflict is changing.
All-out wars are no longer the norm for settling political disputes among states. In fact, despite the military modernisation under way in Asian countries, few wars have taken place. Afghanistan and Iraq are exceptions, since they are not typical inter-state wars. More Asian states today are not inclined to engage in large-scale conventional warfare, as they are no longer seen as the most effective way to securing political, economic and diplomatic gains,” Mr Antony said.
He believed that conflicts might occur only if regimes facing internal economic and political problems unleashed nationalism and war against an external ‘enemy’ to rally popular support. “Asia, unfortunately, does have a number of unsettled territorial and sovereignty disputes.
And these can be manipulated by irresponsible states to ensure regime stability. Both internal and external checks and balances, against such possible abuses of power are, therefore, necessary.”
Many Asian states though had set aside disputes that could not be resolved immediately, to maintain status quo.
“They have encouraged a system of dialogue and negotiations to peacefully resolve these disputes. And they are focussed on enhancing cooperation. The India–China relationship is a good example of this approach,” Mr Antony said, just ahead of a flurry of high-level diplomatic visits to the region.
Mr Antony lauded India’s “capacity building efforts” in Afghanistan.
“The goal of our efforts is to contribute to Asian peace and stability and not undermine them.”