At­tack casts shadow on La­hore ini­tia­tive

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Rezaul Laskar & Jayanth Ja­cob let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Even be­fore the gun­fire had died down at the Pathankot air base on Satur­day, peo­ple across In­dia had be­gun ask­ing the in­evitable ques­tion: Would this brazen terror at­tack neu­tralise the bon­homie and gains gen­er­ated by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s sur­prise visit to La­hore?

While New Delhi was quick to in­di­cate its in­ten­tion to take for­ward the pro­posed peace dia- logue, Pak­istan’s for­eign of­fice con­demned the Pathankot in­ci­dent and com­mit­ted it­self to the “good­will cre­ated dur­ing the re­cent high-level con­tacts and … part­ner­ing In­dia in tack­ling ter­ror­ism”.

“Pak­istan is our neigh­bour­ing coun­try. We want good re­la­tions with not just Pak­istan but with all our neigh­bours. We also want peace, but if there is any terror at­tack on In­dia, we will give a be­fit­ting re­ply,” Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh said in Delhi with­out di­rectly blam­ing Is­lam­abad for the Pathankot in­ci­dent.

But Satur­day’s at­tack brought to the fore the dan­ger Pak­istan­based terror out­fits pose to any ef­fort at nor­mal­is­ing bi­lat­eral ties. “Those who don’t want peace are cre­at­ing nui­sance,” said Ji­ten­der Singh, min­is­ter of state in the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice. The at­tack is ex­pected to in­crease pres­sure on Modi, es­pe­cially from those who crit­i­cised his sud­den La­hore visit to greet his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Nawaz Sharif on his birth­day, af­ter say­ing for months that talks and ter­ror­ism could not go to­gether.

For those who adore Modi for his tough talk on terror and Pak­istan, fail­ure to act in the cur­rent cir­cum­stances will be per­ceived as a sign of weak­ness. But any rash ac­tion will be ac­com­pa­nied by the risk of scup­per­ing all that was gained for the peace process.

CON­TIN­UED ON P7

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