New Delhi Bureau

Somalia of South Asia, says Congress; BJP sees it an indication of ugly reality

Attack shows the extent to which terrorist activities have grown in Pakistan: CPI(M)

Pakistan is a victim of its own policies,

says Manish Tewari

NEW DELHI: India has expressed shock at Tuesday’s attack on touring Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore. “We are shocked at the audacious attack. Terrorism based in Pakistan is a grave threat to the entire world. It is in Pakistan’s own interest to take prompt, meaningful and decisive steps to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure once and for all,” an official spokesman said.

India offered its sympathies to the Sri Lankan players and others caught up in the attack and wished them speedy recovery.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said: “We condemn the incident. We are sorry for the Sri Lankan team. We hope that players are safe and will recover.”

Asked for the Indian response to the charge made by the Lahore Commissioner, the Minister asserted that India had nothing to do with it. Till the infrastructure and facilities available to terrorists in Pakistan were dismantled, this could happen again, he added.

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said the Lahore attack “underscores the enormity of the threat” that emerges from terrorism centred in Pakistan. India had been insisting on dismantling of the terror infrastructure in Pakistan and Tuesday’s attack once again highlighted this need.

Communists’ call

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the heinous attack highlighted the grave security situation in Pakistan and the extent to which terrorist activities had grown there.

In a statement, the Polit Bureau said the people of Pakistan would surely realise how serious a threat terrorism was, and hoped that they would unitedly and resolutely take up the challenge of facing it. Echoing similar views, the CPI said the attack highlighted the grave security situation in Pakistan. Its central secretariat urged the people of Pakistan to realise the severity and savagery of terrorism operating from and in the territory of their country.

“We appeal to them to bring pressure to eliminate terrorism and join the secular-democratic forces of the subcontinent to root out this menace forever,” the party said.

Continuing chaos

The Congress on Tuesday condemned the attack and asserted that Pakistan was not just a failed State but fast becoming the Somalia of South Asia.

Talking to journalists, party spokesman Manish Tewari likened the attack to the killing of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. What happened in Lahore once again pointed to the continuing chaos in Pakistan.

Pakistan was surrendering its territory to terrorists. After engaging in export of terror for so many years, it was now finding itself at the receiving end, he said.

Asked whether the Congress subscribed to Pakistan’s view that it too was a victim of terror, Mr. Tewari said there would not be any takers for such an argument. “It is a victim of its own policies and it would be erroneous to see it otherwise.”

The terror attacks in Pakistan were a testimony to the fact that the writ of the government extended only to Islamabad. The international community should focus on finding new ways to dismantle the terror infrastructure in that country.

Borrowing a quotation from the former U. S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who described Pakistan as a “migraine for the international community,” he said, “Now Pakistan is becoming a time-bomb.”

“Step up security”

The Bharatiya Janata Party said the attack was an indication of the “ugly reality” of Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism.

Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad noted that those who promoted terrorism as an instrument of state policy were now facing the fallout of that policy. “Yet, we see no change in the mindset in Islamabad,” Mr. Prasad added.

Calling for a unanimous Indian response, Mr. Prasad warned that the government should take note of what happened in Lahore as well as recent developments in Bangladesh and strengthen border security and take other steps to ensure India’s safety.

“The Taliban is now just 30 kilometres away from India,” Mr. Prasad said, and if Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s intentions were honourable, as certified by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently, then that sincerity should be reflected in Pakistan paying heed to New Delhi’s demand to hand over wanted terrorists.

Condemning the Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan team, Mr. Prasad noted that not for decades have terrorists specifically targeted sportsmen. The last time that happened was at the Munich Olympics.

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