Act against 26/11 attackers to restore confidence

New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said confidence cannot be restored between India and Pakistan till Islamabad takes action against the "real culprits" responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"The fundamental cause of friction between the two countries is Pakistan not taking action to bring the real controllers and perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks to justice," Chidambaram said during an interaction with a visiting Pakistani journalists.

Chidambaram made it clear that confidence cannot be restored between the two countries unless Pakistan takes action against the "real culprits of 26/11". He questioned how the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks were "living in Pakistan".

At the same time, bilateral relations are being affected by the continued infiltration of militants from Pakistan into India along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab states, he said.

Giving an example, he said Indian security forces had recently killed five militants while they were attempting to infiltrate from Pakistan.

Chidambaram repeatedly stressed the need for Pakistan to take action against the "real culprits" responsible for the attack on India`s financial hub in November 2008 that killed 166 people.

New Delhi recently handed over to Islamabad a list of five individuals linked to the Mumbai incident, including an army officer, but no action had been taken by Pakistani authorities so far, he said.

Chidambaram said he had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik and the Pakistan government on this issue.

The list, drawn up on the basis of information provided by the US, includes terror suspects Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Major Iqbal, Mazhar Iqbal and an individual identified only as "Lashkar member D".

Major Iqbal was identified by Pakistani-American national David Headley ? a key terrorist involved in planning and conducting surveillance for the Mumbai attacks ? as his handler and an officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

He stressed the need for Pakistan to provide India with voice samples of certain terror suspects in the light of revelations made by Headley while testifying in the Chicago trial of Tahawwur Rana, another Pakistani-origin suspect linked to the Mumbai attacks.

If Pakistan did not want to provide the voice samples to India, it could hand them over to the US for examination, Chidambaram said. The US had also confirmed that that there are terrorist training camps in Pakistan, he added.

Asked about the seven terror suspects who had been put on trial in Pakistan on charges of involvement in the Mumbai incident, Chidambaram said only two of them, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, were "real culprits" while the rest were "foot soldiers".

Chidambaram also contended that the authority of Pakistan`s civilian government had "further diminished" in the aftermath of the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad that killed Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Things would not improve if the military and intelligence agencies continue to play a dominant role, he hinted.

Chidambaram also said there could be no progress in India-Pakistan talks on counter-terrorism unless Islamabad takes action against the masterminds of the Mumbai incident.

He said there was no bilateral meeting scheduled with his Pakistani counterpart though they could possibly meet on the sidelines of a SAARC meeting.

India had given evidence to Pakistan about the involvement of certain elements in the 26/11 attacks, he said.

"It is Pakistan`s duty to get the culprits investigated, whether they did it individually or if the government or some other elements were involved," he said.