The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak strain begins to show

New Delhi, July 15: Nudging Manmohan Singh’s stern signal to the next notch, India today said it was becoming difficult to take the peace process forward as public opinion had turned against Pakistan post-7/11.

A few hours later, the impact was felt on the ground with India formally informing Pakistan that foreign secretary-level talks would not take place on July 20 as expected.

“We have to take people along. Every time something like the deadly incident takes place, it undermines public opinion. Negative public opinion and anger is created and' it puts a question mark on the (peace) process,” foreign secretary Shyam Saran said.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Singh had signalled that brakes would be put on the process after a recce of Mumbai hospitals treating victims of Tuesday’s train bombings.

Singh, who leaves for St Petersburg tomorrow for the G8 summit, is expected to come down strong on the blasts at the forum and make an appeal for a co-ordinated and global fight against terror.

The message for Singh from St Petersburg was of praise, with both the US and Russia jointly hailing India’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and offering to help it with fuel.

Saran said every time there was a terrorist strike, India’s ability to take the peace process forward was dented. More so, because Pakistan had not honoured its commitment to dismantle its terror apparatus.

The onus for peace was now on Pakistan, he said, showcasing the confidence-building measures initiated by India as proof of its commitment.

“Nobody can doubt our intention to secure peace.”

Pakistan said it had no problems with the talks being put off but refused to “accept any connection between the postponement and the Mumbai blasts”.

Saran said the Mumbai explosions could not be seen as apart from the London tube bombings or the Madrid train blasts. Without naming Pakistan, he said there were hints all three had the same source.

Qahhar claims hand

Lashkar-e-Qahhar has claimed responsibility for the serial blasts, according to an email to a TV channel.

The little-known outfit, associated with al Qaida and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba, said 16 activists carried out the strikes.

It warned of more attacks if the “exploitation of Kashmiri people” was not stopped. Qahhar had owned up to the Varanasi blasts in March this year.

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