Punjab terror attack to scuttle India-Pakistan NSA talks?

New Delhi, July 27: The terror attack in Punjab's Gurdaspur district, very near to the border with Pakistan, follows the typical pattern of attacks from across the border to scuttle peace talks -- this time, the planned National Security Advisor-level talks to discuss issues related to terrorism.

The terror attack in Gurdaspur was "no doubt a setback" to the India-Pakistan peace process, but the NSA talks -- decided at the meeting in Ufa, Russia between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif -- "are definitely on", sources told IANS. [Updates: 'Gurdaspur operation planned well in advance']


Monday's terror attack was more reason for the two NSAs -- India's Ajit Doval and Pakistan's Sartaj Aziz -- to meet earlier, a source said.

"Both NSAs should meet earlier, but that does not mean such attacks are going to stop," the source said.

The Gurdaspur attack, which ended on Monday evening after nearly 11 hours, follows the continuing pattern from across the border to scuttle any peace talks, the source added.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has in as many words pointed at Pakistan for the attack.

"I cannot understand why time and again cross-border terror incidents are taking place when we want good relations with our neighbour (Pakistan). I want to tell our neighbour that we want peace but not at the cost of our national pride," he said at a CRPF function in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh.

"I have said this earlier and I will say it again that while we will not be the first to attack or fire, but if challenged, will give a befitting reply," he added.

Rajnath Singh will make a detailed statement in parliament on Tuesday.

Strategic expert C. Uday Bhaskar said India should "not be impulsive" in calling off the NSA-level talks "even if all the conjecture points to cross border support" and the involvement of terror group like the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Bhaskar told IANS that if there was credible evidence that the Gurdaspur attack has the same fingerprints as the 2008 Mumbai attack, then India should "act in a manner that Delhi deems appropriate -- tactically and strategically, even while maintaining politico-diplomatic contact".

He also wondered if the focus of terrorists was shifting from Kashmir to Jammu -- and now Punjab.

Bhaskar also commented on the timing of the attack -- coming a day after the nation marked the 16th anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas, India's victory in the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan, and also in the run up to Yakub Memon's hearing in the Supreme Court of his petition against his hanging for the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings.

"All these factors cannot be ignored," Bhaskar, the director of think tank Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.

He said New Delhi needs to combine "determination with measured and calibrated response" to the attack.

"India's overall strategic communication when dealing with such an exigency needs considerable improvement -- at the centre-state level and among the political parties," he added.

The attack on Punjab's Dinanagar town ended after nearly 11 hours, with Indian security forces killing the three terrorists who were holed up in the police station.

Seven people, including a senior police officer, two home guard personnel and three civilians, were killed in the attack.

After the July 10 talks in Ufa between Modi and Sharif, both sides agreed to jointly cooperate to eliminate terrorism and that both their NSAs would meet shortly in Delhi to discuss issues connected to terrorism.

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