British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday the Pakistan state had not directed the attacks on Mumbai, but urged Islamabad to fulfil its promise to root out “militant groups”. India hoped that Pakistan would hand over the “fugitives of Indian law”, notwithstanding Islamabad’s refusal to do so, and asked the world community to build pressure on Pakistan in a “concerted” manner to ensure that perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks are brought to justice. Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who held “exhaustive” talks with his British counterpart David Miliband at Hyderabad House, apprised him of details of the Mumbai attacks and its links in Pakistan. “I do not believe that the attacks were directed by the state. It is important to say that.

What is also important is the response of the Pakistani government to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT),” Milliband said while addressing a joint Press conference with Pranab Mukherjee when was asked to comment on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s view that official agencies of Pakistan could have been involved in the Mumbai strikes. “As for the links back to Pakistan, those are clear,” he said and added the LT was responsible for the Mumbai attacks. The British Foreign Secretary asked Pakistan to take on LT, the alleged architects of the Mumbai terror attacks, “frontally and politically” even as Pranab again reminded Islamabad to bring the perpetrators of the terror attacks to justice and honour its anti-terror pledge. Contending that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to go after terrorists, the British Foreign Secretary said the modern day threat to Pakistan comes from “within its own borders” as has been highlighted by the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan is vital for security of India and Afghanistan, he said adding stable and prosperous Pakistan is in the interest of the world. “It is clear that the Pakistani apparatus have the fundamental responsibility to tackle the roots of this organisation,” he said. When it was pointed out that LT’s front outfit Jamaatud Daawa continues to function despite the UN ban, he said Pakistan has a “history of people being arrested and then not being prosecuted or brought to justice”.

“The responsibility of the Pakistan side is something we expect them to fulfil as strong sense of the people of Pakistan and also as a member of the UN Security Council. Those who have been arrested must be brought to justice and, if found guilty, need to be punished,” Milliband said. He underlined that “in this case, it is an appropriate response.” Indian Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the world should put pressure on Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks.

He said during his talks with Miliband, he stressed the “need for concerted international pressure on Pakistan to take firm action” against the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks and end what he called cross-border terrorism, of which India has been a “victim”. Asked about Pakistan’s rejection of India’s demand for handing over the Mumbai suspects to face Indian justice, Mukherjee replied: “Pakistan is obliged to implement all international commitments and resolutions against terrorism. Pakistan as a member of Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) is required to implement the Saarc convention on terrorism.” “I do hope that the material we have provided to Pakistan and evidences which have given, they will act on it and will ensure that perpetrators of these terror acts are brought to justice and some of the fugitives of Indian law who have taken shelter in Pakistan will be handed over to India for their proper justice,” he said. He underlined that the Mumbai attacks as also a series of terror strikes earlier had nothing to do with Indo-Pak issues but were a part of global terrorism. Miliband stressed that the men arrested in Pakistan must face trial.

“It is important that those who have been arrested be brought to justice,” Miliband said, adding that he believes that the Zardari government would do it as it has promised to do so. “I think it is very important that those who are arrested are brought to trial on the basis of the evidences that have been accumulated,” he hoped. Lashing out at LT, he said the “grievances” on which the outfit is “trying to play on” can in “no way justify” its acts. “Political future of Pakistan depends on focussing not on historical biases but on current challenges, domestic challenges, political and social challenges,” he said. Hailing Pakistan’s legal system, he said it “showed its independence” in 2008 in the campaign against the previous Musharraf government. He said the lawyers and justices of Pakistan are capable of acting “without fear or favour”. Miliband noted that the Pakistan government has said they want to prosecute those who have been arrested for the terrible crime in Mumbai.

President Asif Ali Zardari is sincere in countering terrorism and Pakistan has adopted a right strategy to deal with terrorism. Pakistan is also victim of terrorism, he said. “I believe that President (Asif Ali) Zardari is sincere when he says that he wants to tackle the scourge of terrorism in Pakistan,” he said. Miliband, who travels to Islamabad on Thursday (tomorrow), said it is vital that the whole Pakistan state machinery support Zardari in tackling terrorism. “Terrorism is not someone else’s war in Pakistan. It is their own,” he said.