Describing Thursday's attack on a police station and army post in Jammu as "one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear his government would not let terrorists disrupt the dialogue process with Pakistan.

The latest fidayeen strike comes a few days before Dr. Singh's scheduled meeting in New York with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and fits a pattern that has become evident in recent years of terrorist groups executing major strikes on the eve of high-level diplomatic talks as a way of spoiling the atmospherics.

Expressing his heartfelt condolences to the families of "the brave army and police officers as well innocent civilians martyred in this cowardly attack," the Prime Minister said India had "firmly resolved to combat and defeat the terrorist menace that continues to receive encouragement and reinforcement from across the border." He added: "Such attacks will not deter us and will not succeed in derailing our efforts to find a resolution to all problems through a process of dialogue."

In a response that seemed to match the spirit of Dr. Singh’s words, the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi issued a statement strongly condemning “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” “Our hearts go out in sympathy to the families of all those who fell victim to the acts of terrorist violence in Jammu today,” the statement said, one of the few times Islamabad has referred to extremists who target Indian soldiers as “terrorists.” “It is imperative,” the Pakistani statement concluded, “that senseless acts of violence do not deter us from pursuing a path to a better future for our peoples.”

Speaking to The Hindu on background, a senior Indian official said there could be no question of "succumbing" to the latest provocation which was clearly intended to undermine Sunday's meeting between the two Prime Ministers. The attackers' aim is to provoke a political backlash against dialogue with Pakistan, the official said, adding that he expected they would not succeed this time around.

On its part, the Bharatiya Janata Party has attacked the UPA government for "pursuing a weak-need policy towards terrorism." In a statement, BJP president Rajnath Singh said the Prime Minister's upcoming meeting with Mr Sharif should have been called off.

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