KASH­MIR In­dia prom­ises re­sponse af­ter sui­cide bomb­ing

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Maria Abi-Habib, Sameer Yasir and Hari Ku­mar Maria Abi-Habib, Sameer Yasir and Hari Ku­mar are New York Times writ­ers.

NEW DELHI — In­dia ac­cused Pak­istan on Fri­day of or­ches­trat­ing a sui­cide bomb­ing that killed dozens of soldiers in Kash­mir, the worst at­tack there in decades, promis­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse and call­ing on world lead­ers to iso­late its neigh­bor.

Pak­istan has de­nied in­volve­ment in the at­tack, in which at least 40 In­dian soldiers were killed Thurs­day when a driver slammed an ex­plo­sives-packed ve­hi­cle into a para­mil­i­tary con­voy. But by Fri­day, In­dia had re­called its am­bas­sador to Pak­istan for con­sul­ta­tions in New Delhi.

With na­tional elec­tions in In­dia set to take place by May and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi fac­ing a close con­test, an­a­lysts say he risks look­ing weak if he does not re­spond. Modi was elected in 2014 on prom­ises to crack down on Kash­mir’s mil­i­tants and to adopt a tougher line on Pak­istan. The nu­clear-armed ri­vals have gone to war three times since in­de­pen­dence in 1947, with two of the wars fought over Kash­mir.

“We will give a be­fit­ting re­ply; our neigh­bor will not be al­lowed to desta­bi­lize us,” Modi said af­ter an emer­gency meet­ing with se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers on Fri­day. “Our se­cu­rity forces are given full free­dom” to re­spond.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley said In­dia would use all diplo­matic means to “en­sure the com­plete iso­la­tion from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of Pak­istan, of which in­con­tro­vert­ible ev­i­dence is avail­able of hav­ing a di­rect hand in this grue­some ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent.”

The streets of Jammu, in Kash­mir, the part of the dis­puted Hi­malayan re­gion that In­dia con­trols, were gen­er­ally quiet on Fri­day af­ter a cur­few was im­posed. But anti-Pak­istan protests broke out in parts of In­dia, with demon­stra­tors call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to re­tal­i­ate.

Scores poured into Delhi’s streets, wear­ing the saf­fron­col­ored scarves of Modi’s Hindu na­tion­al­ist party, pump­ing their fists in the air and wav­ing signs that read: “At­tack Pak­istan. Crush it.”

But In­dia’s op­tions for putting diplo­matic pres­sure on Pak­istan are lim­ited. Pak­istan is largely shielded by its al­liance with China, which has used its veto power at the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to pro­tect it, while prop­ping up Pak­istan’s sput­ter­ing, in­creas­ingly iso­lated econ­omy.

In­dia’s op­tions for a mil­i­tary re­sponse are also lim­ited, an­a­lysts say, with the dis­puted bor­der blan­keted in thick snow and Pak­istani troops on high alert.

Channi Anand / As­so­ci­ated Press

Pro­test­ers in Hindu-dom­i­nated Jammu city throw stones dur­ing a clash between com­mu­ni­ties over an at­tack that killed 40 In­dian soldiers in the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity state of Kash­mir.

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