India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna confirmed on Thursday that there were no changes in the meetings with Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar in the wake of Wednesday’s serial blasts in Mumbai. Similarly, Krishna said, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India itinerary will remain unchanged.
“The talks with [Pakistan] are proceeding as scheduled,” said foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash. “There has been a heinous terrorist attack on Mumbai and we have duly noted the message of condolence from the president and prime minister of Pakistan.”
A date has yet to be finalised for the talks in New Delhi between Krishna and Khar, but Prakash said it would be in the last week of July. Clinton is scheduled to arrive in India on Monday for the second round of Indo-US strategic dialogue. She will also travel to Chennai for a public function.
Condemning the serial blasts in Mumbai, Krishna said on Thursday that it was a grim reminder that terror continued to be a threat.
“The city of Mumbai has been rocked by blasts. It’s a grim reminder that terror continues to be a threat. We need to be vigilant all the time,” Krishna said, adding that Maharashtra will do all in its power to bring the culprits to book.
Washington has also ruled out any change in Clinton’s itinerary during her upcoming trip. “Stays as planned … Nothing is going to change due to Mumbai blasts,” said US charge d’affaires Peter Burleigh when asked if any changes were being made in the travel programme of Clinton.
Severed head found
Investigators say they have found a severed head at the site of one of the blasts, indicating that it was caused by a suicide attacker. A certain ‘level of sophistication’, hitherto unseen in previous attacks, was seen in Wednesday’s three rush-hour blasts.
Using the monsoon
Sources said that the group that mounted the blasts knew better to communicate via phones or emails. It was familiar with Mumbai’s commercial areas and understood how to use the heavy Mumbai monsoon to its advantage. Security cameras at the locations of the three blasts, say Mumbai police officers, have not revealed any clues. Umbrellas conceal many faces caught on camera. A steady drizzle makes it tough to spot anything at all for large parts of the footage.
Amid this grim and unsettling scenario, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi arrived in the city on Thursday night and were briefed on the situation by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Speculate nothing, says minister
Earlier, Home Minister P Chidambaram appealed to the opinion leaders to not speculate on the identity of groups or groups that were behind the Mumbai attacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2011.
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