Reiterating its reservations on engagement with Pakistan, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday asked the government to build pressure on Islamabad to make it accountable for the alleged role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 26/11 attack.
The party spokesperson, Prakash Javadekar, cited the reported confession of Canadian Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Tahawwur Hussain Rana that he had provided material support to the perpetrators of 26/11 at the behest of the ISI and argued that since Pakistan had done nothing concrete in bringing to book the culprits, any engagement with the country served no purpose.
Congress cites Kandahar
However, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked the BJP to look at their track record before pointing fingers at the government. “They [the BJP] should be the last to preach after bending on their knees after the hijack of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar,” he quipped.
Mr. Tewari said that the BJP should ask questions about engagement of Atal Behari Vajpayee with the then Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit in 2004 after the terrorist attack on Parliament.
“I am surprised at the ignorance of the BJP spokesperson as Mr. Vajpayee and Gen. Musharraf had also met at the SAARC Summit in Nepal. The BJP should introspect before speaking,” the Congress spokesperson said.
Mr. Javadekar maintained that after the endorsement of the supposed confession of Rana by the Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai no purpose would be served by engaging with Pakistan unless Islamabad dismantled terror infrastructure and fully cooperated with India in punishing those guilty of the 26/11 attacks.
The BJP spokesperson maintained that India should not show any leniency in this regard.
“We should not let them off the hook without their fulfilling the promise given in January 2004 that it will not allow its land to be used for any terror activity targeted against India.”
ISI's role notjust peripheral
Mr. Javadekar said that the supposed confession of Rana clearly showed that the ISI was not playing just a peripheral role but actually controlling and coordinating the attacks from the beginning till the end.
He said that India should capitalise on this opportunity to expose the direct role of the Pakistan government on the global forums. “Talks and terror cannot go on.”
Mr. Javadekar said that Pakistan's continuing complicity was fully on display when the main perpetrators of the 26/11 attack, Hafeez Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, are roaming freely and spewing venom against India.