'India will not resort to military action on Pakistan'

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New Delhi, Dec 2: India on Tuesday, Dec 2 sought to allay fears about an armed conflict with Pakistan, saying military action is not being considered and that it will wait for Islamabad to respond to its demand for action against terror groups and individuals operating out of the neighbouring country.

"What will be done, time will show and you will come to know," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters when referred to US President-elect Barack Obama's suggestion that India has a 'right to protect' itself. When asked whether it could mean military action, Mukherjee said "Nobody is talking about military action."

The comment is significant as there are fears in the US as also in Pakistan about India resorting to military action in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks carried out by "elements" based in Pakistan.

He said India "will await" Pakistan's response to a demarche (protest note) issued to it demanding action against terrorist groups and individuals operating out of that country and handing over of 20 fugitive terrorists.

Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday and issued a demarche.

"Now, we have in our demarche asked (for) the arrest and handover of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitives of Indian law," Mukherjee said on the sidelines of a function to inaugurate the India-Arab Forum.

India had already handed over to Pakistan a list of 20 terrorists, including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Mohammad and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar besides Dawood Ibrahim, who are based in that country and are suspected to be behind terror attacks in India.

"There are lists of about 20 persons. (These) lists are sometimes altered and this exercise is going on and we have renewed it in our demarche," Mukherjee said.

Investigations into the three-day Mumbai terror strikes have shown that the plan to carry out the attacks was hatched in Pakistan, suspectedly by Lashkar-e-Toiba and the perpetrators of the ghastly act came from Karachi by ships and boats.

Islamabad has been in a denial mode but India says it has hard evidence to show Pakistani link.

Angry at the Mumbai attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India will not tolerate use of territories by its neighbours for launching attacks in this country and that there will be a "cost" to it.

The US is also building pressure on Pakistan, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saying Islamabad must "follow evidence wherever it leads" and lend "absolute" and "transparent" cooperation to New Delhi in probe into the Mumbai terror strikes.

On the solidarity shown by the world leaders, including the US President-elect, with India in the aftermath of the Mumbai strikes, the External Affairs Minister said: "We appreciate the responses which we have received from all over the world, including Obama."


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