Asserting that Pakistan will be held responsible if there is a Mumbai-type attack, India today termed as “very irresponsible” the statement by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that his country cannot guarantee that such an incident will not recur.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram expressed unhappiness over the way Pakistan has dealt with the evidence provided to it in connection with Mumbai terror attack and said India continues to be “vulnerable” as the “level of threat is pretty high”.
He rejected Pakistan's effort to make distinction between state and non-state actors.
“I don't think Pakistan can get away with this charade of making a distinction between state and non-state. If it emanates from Pakistan soil,” he said.
“I never believe in this distinction between state and non-state actor as far as Pakistan is concerned and information that we have recently makes it quite clear that this so called distinction does not exist. Therefore, if there is another attack, emanating from Pakistan soil, I think whole world will hold Pakistan responsible,” he told Times Now.
On Mr. Gilani's contention that Islamabad cannot guarantee that there would be no repeat of 26/11 Mumbai attack, he said.
“Mr Gilani is the prime minister of that country, ordinarily I should not comment on the prime minister's statement. But with great respect, that was very irresponsible statement.”
Asked whether he was worried about another attack taking place, Chidambaram said “We remain vulnerable. But it is not as if something is going to happen today or tomorrow. Like any other country, specially a country very close to the epicentre of terrorism which is Afghanistan, Pakistan. We are vulnerable.”
He, however, expressed confidence that India has the capacity to be able to neutralise any threat and “if luck also plays a part, I think we will be able to face any challenge”.
While rejecting any distinction between state and non-state actors, Chidambaram referred to the recent suicide attack at Lal Chowk in Srinagar and said it had links in Pakistan.
“There was a handler. Conversations have been recorded. Can Pakistan get away by saying this is a non-state actor. Is it not Pakistan's obligation to examine who the handler was and tell us who the handler was, where did he operate from,” he said.
Asked about US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' statement that India's patience would be “limited” if 26/11 recurs, the home minister said “I think he was in a way articulating the angst of India. Although I would not have used those words that would lead to diplomatic row, but I think he was articulating the angst of India”.
He underlined that India was not happy with the way Pakistan was dealing with information available to it. “In fact, they are dragging their feet. But we will continue to enhance capacity to meet any threat from Pakistan or elsewhere”.
On counter measures taken to thwart possible terror strikes in the country in the light of recent intelligence inputs, Chidambaram said, "We take appropriate pre-emptive measures. We have strengthened airport security. We have strengthened security on the aircraft.
“We are fully alive to the nature of the threat and we have taken adequate pre-emptive measures,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram, while talking about recent infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir said, “It seems that in the New Year they have stepped up their level of infiltration. We have had at least half-a-dozen incidents of infiltration. Every one of them has been repelled. It is possible that some have sneaked through. There have been incidents of cutting the fence. Yesterday, we recovered two very large cache of arms, ammunition etc. Ours response is also pretty effective and swift.”