India and Pakistan ready for war, US threatens intervention?

India was planning a military strike over the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to London Wajid Shamsul Hassan told the BBC, saying New Delhi intended “to teach Pakistan a lesson.” The network quoted the official saying, “This is what we were told by our friends that there could possibly be a quick strike at some of the areas they suspect to be the training camps, an air raid or something of that sort.” India has made no comment on Hassan’s remarks. (Press TV, Dec. 7)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is reported to have told Pakistani officials that there is “irrefutable evidence” of involvement of elements in the country in the Mumbai attacks and that it urgently needs to prepare an “effective and focused” to avert a strong international response. Rice met with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during her four-hour stay in Islamabad. Contrary to the formal statements issued by Pakistani authorities and her own statement at the Chaklala Airbase before her departure, sources said she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of perpetrators, otherwise the US will act.”

Meanwhile, despite Rice’s hopes that the two countries would keep their channels of communication open, the India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue has effectively been put on hold, making the peace process one of the major casualties of the Mumbai attacks. (Dawn, Dec. 6)

US President-elect Barack Obama—who has reserved the right to strike Pakistan-based militants if Islamabad is unwilling or unable—was pressed in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview Dec. 7 as to whether he believes India has the same right. He responded ambiguously: “If a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself.” He said the new civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari “has sent the right signals.” Citing the recent bombing in Peshawar, he said of Zardari: “He has indicated that he recognizes this [terrorism] is not just a threat to the United States but it is a threat to Pakistan as well.” (AFP, Dec. 7)

See our last posts on India, the Mumbai attacks and Pakistan.

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