- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 15, 2001

NEW DELHI The Indian government said yesterday it had evidence that a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group carried out a suicide attack on Parliament that claimed 12 lives.
India demanded that Pakistan's government prove its commitment to fighting international terrorism by halting the activities, arresting the leaders and freezing the funds of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and another Islamic militant group also fighting for independence in the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir.
"Pakistan is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," responded Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan. "President General Pervez Musharraf and the government have already condemned the incident."
"Simply issuing a statement is not enough," he said, and India would "have to provide us some evidence" that would be examined.
Asked earlier if India would do so, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said: "No country reveals its methodology of gathering evidence."
"India has technical evidence that [Thursdays] terrorist attack on Parliament House was not just against the symbol of Indian democracy and the sovereignty of the Indian people, that it was the handiwork of a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba," Mr. Singh said.
The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba denied involvement in Thursday's suicide attack, when five gunmen armed with AK-47s and explosives stormed the red sandstone Parliament complex, killing six security force people and a gardener in a 35-minute gun battle. The five attackers also died.
"It's a pack of lies," Yahya Mujahid, spokesman for the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, said in Islamabad. "The attack was sponsored by India itself. The whole drama was staged to malign Kashmir's Islamic groups and to involve Pakistan."
There has been no claim of responsibility, but the attack has heightened tension between neighbors India and Pakistan. India put its military forces on alert after the attack, but there was no indication Pakistan had done so.
India demanded that Pakistan act against the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is accused of carrying out a massive suicide bombing against the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature in October that claimed 40 lives.
"Pakistan has asserted that it is with the rest of the international community in combating terrorism and that it does not promote terrorism," Mr. Singh said. "We expect that Pakistan will abide with what it says itself."
India has been skeptical of Pakistan's new role as a key ally in the U.S.-led global war on terrorism since Islamic militant suicide fighters hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11.
President Bush offered the use of FBI and State Department terrorism specialists to find those responsible for Thursday's attack, phoning Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that evening to express America's solidarity with India.
"The events that occurred yesterday were perpetrated by terrorists no different in their objectives from those who attacked America on September 11," U.S. Ambassador Robert Blackwill said yesterday in a condolence visit to the Indian Parliament.
Lawmakers thumped their desks to support lower house Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi's tribute to the security officers for their "selfless courage and bravery" in resisting the attackers Thursday. They stood in silence, then adjourned in a traditional gesture of condolence.
India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring and funding the Islamic militants fighting over Kashmir. India and Pakistan have gone to war twice over the territory, now divided between them.
Pakistan says it supports the guerrillas' cause but denies aiding or funding the groups that are based on its territory.
More than 100 Parliament members from the governing coalition met Mr. Vajpayee yesterday, demanding that India attack and destroy militant camps in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

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