Rice: Mumbai attacks involvement "on Pakistani soil"; Update: Indian involvement, too?

Condoleezza Rice increased the pressure on the Yousef Gilani government in Pakistan by telling Fox News Sunday that evidence showed that the Mumbai attacks involved groups in Pakistan.  The outgoing Secretary of State said no evidence showed any involvement by state organs in the terrorist rampage that killed almost 200 people, which Islamabad will welcome.  Still, Rice made it clear that the US expects Pakistan to exercise control over its territory and eliminate the people responsible:

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Rice said “the government of Pakistan very much wants to do the right thing because they understand that even if these were non-state actors, which I believe they were, non-state actors operating on Pakistani soil, it is still Pakistan’s responsibility to respond.”

“The investigation is still ongoing,” Rice added. “Pakistan needs to cooperate transparently. They’ve said that they will. Clearly there are organizations that operatives with longstanding involvement in this kind of activity [in Pakistan].”

Rice would not comment on whether the Bush administration, with only six weeks left in office, believes Pakistan should turn over anyone suspected of involvement in the attacks to Indian authorities. Indian officials have made that request.

“I think the important thing is that Pakistan has to act and these people are brought to justice, and that any information that they may have be put to use in making sure follow-on attacks don’t happen,” Rice said.  “There’s not a timetable involved here.

Rice underscored the American interest in the issue.  Six of the dead were Americans, and clearly the terrorists plotted their targets to kill Westerners at the least and likely wanted to net as many Americans as they could.  They also targeted a Chabad center in order to kill Jews, and Israel has also been vocal about the need for rapid enforcement on the part of Pakistan.

As far as I know, this is the first time that the US has publicly taken the position that the attacks originated in Pakistan.  Rice noted that Pakistan remains our ally, but explicitly demanded action from the Gilani government.  That statement puts pressure on Pakistan and makes it more difficult for them to rebut the same charges from India with denials and counterallegations.

We need to keep the pressure on Islamabad.  The Gilani government has to find ways to act against the terrorists that have built havens on their territory.  If they want the world to respect their sovereignty, they’d better start enforcing it themselves.

Update: Looks like India may need to do the same thing:

India was today grappling with the possibility that one of its own undercover operatives helped equip the Islamist extremists who attacked Mumbai, killing more than 170 people.

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir today demanded the release of one of their undercover agents after he was arrested by police in Delhi for allegedly supplying a mobile SIM card used by the Mumbai gunmen.

Mukhtar Ahmed, 35, originally from Indian-controlled Kashmir, was detained on Friday in Delhi. He is being held with another man, Tauseef Rehman, 26, who was arrested in his home city of Calcutta on the same day. …

The arrests of the two men also provided the first indication that the Indian authorities, who have so far insisted that the Mumbai attacks were planned in and launched from Pakistan, believe the gunmen may have received help from inside India.

It is alleged that both men were in Calcutta in October when Mr Rehman used a dead relative’s identification to buy several SIM cards, some of which were later used by the Mumbai terrorists. Mr Rehman gave or sold the SIM cards to Mr Ahmed, police allege. Both men have been charged with fraud and criminal conspiracy.

A police spokesman in Calcutta emphasised, however, that it was not clear whether Mr Ahmed and Mr Rehman knew that the SIM cards would be used by terrorists.

Was this a failed operation by an Indian infiltrator, or was it a double-cross?  Ahmed was part of a unit that uses former “militants” to penetrate terrorist networks.  Either Ahmed didn’t get the memo on the attack in time to warn his superiors, or he may have been a mole sent to penetrate India’s counterterrorist efforts.  Either way, it looks as though this attack had a broad support network that involved both countries, not just Pakistan.