Blasts won’t derail Pakistan talks
India advances peace dialogue despite violence
NEW DELHI - India brushed off speculation tying this week’s Mumbai bombings to Pakistan and said yesterday that it remained committed to recently renewed peace talks with its rival neighbor.
The moves showed how little appetite New Delhi has for escalating tensions in the region while it focuses on maintaining economic growth in the nation of 1.2 billion people.
While future revelations about the culprits in the blasts that killed 17 people Wednesday could still sabotage relations between the countries, the Indian government so far has rejected opposition demands for a heavy response against Pakistan.
Yesterday, India said it was working out dates for the next round of negotiations expected this month between top officials from both countries.
“The talks with Pakistan are on schedule,’’ foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.
Pakistan’s leaders had quickly condemned the blasts and have welcomed India’s measured response. In a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani “expressed satisfaction at the resolve of both Pakistan and India to continue with their bilateral dialogue, and not get deterred by terrorists’ designs to derail the dialogue once again.’’
The coordinated triple bombings were the worst terrorist attack in India since 10 Pakistan-based militants rampaged through the city in November 2008, killing 166 people.
Intelligence analysts say the attack bore the hallmarks of the Indian Mujahideen, a shadowy Islamic militant group.
Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Thursday that investigators were not ruling out the possibility the attacks were aimed at scuttling the talks.
The talks, though unlikely to produce concrete results because of political weakness on both sides, at least will lower the temperature between the nations, said Ashok Mehta, a retired Indian Army general and leading strategic analyst.
“They’ve tried both talking and not talking, and the experience has been that talking is the most viable option,’’ he said.