WASHINGTON – Following is a transcripted excerpt from Fox News Sunday, December 30, 2001.
TONY SNOW, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Terrorists attacked the Indian parliament on December 13, killing nine. India says the raiders came from Pakistan and, in response, has sent thousands of troops to the Pakistani border.
Can the two nations settle their differences, or must the U.S. step in and serve as peacemaker? For answers, we turn to Lalit Mansingh, Indian ambassador to the U.S. We also invited officials from the Pakistani government, including the ambassador and foreign minister. They declined to appear.
Ambassador Mansingh, first, let me get your reaction to news today that Pakistani officials have detained two nuclear scientists and one industrialist long suspected of ties to terrorist organizations.
LALIT MANSINGH, INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, that's good, but, according to us, not good enough, because we want to have Pakistan take decisive action to shut down the terrorist groups within that country.
SNOW: Do you know of specific individuals who are in charge of those terrorist organizations? Can you say to the Pakistani government, these are the people we think you need to detain?
MANSINGH: Yes, of course.
You know, there are at least three groups which have been named by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations. The Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, the Jaish-e Mohammad, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. We know who their leaders are, but we don't have any confirmation that any action has been taken.
Now, we have some reports that they have arrested the Jaish-e Mohammad leader, Masood Azhar. But that's also a strange story. They arrested his brother first, and they said, oh sorry, we made a mistake. Then we heard that the gentleman was under house arrest. I said, house arrest is meant for VIPs. So we don't know what is his status.
As far as the leader of the LeT is concerned, we haven't heard anything about him. He seems to be enjoying the protection of the government.
SNOW: How would you characterize President Musharraf's actions so far against terrorists?
MANSINGH: Too little too late.
They have declared that they have frozen the assets of the terrorist groups, right. Now, 28 September, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, 1378, saying that all countries should, among other things, freeze the assets of the terrorist groups. The Pakistani government gave three months' notice to these parties. They have been laughing their way to the bank. Now they're saying, oh good, we have no money in the bank. It's natural. They have diverted the assets elsewhere.
These are just token gestures. They are not seriously meant.
SNOW: A lot of people are concerned that these tensions could flare into war. Are you?
MANSINGH: No, no. It's not our intention to start a war. What we are doing is, we are exercising the diplomatic option. We did exactly what President Bush did when he gave notice to the Taliban, saying they should hand over the Al Qaeda, close down the terrorist networks, or face the consequences.
Now, 13th of September — 13th of December, we had attack on our parliament, one of the most dramatic events for us in our entire history. The heart of our parliament has been attacked.
Now, we summoned the Pakistani high commissioner the next day and said, we expect you to shut down these terrorist groups and take action against them. Two weeks have passed, and we are still waiting to see what kind of action they take.
SNOW: You mentioned President Bush and what he said.
SNOW: The implication is that you would be prepared to take unilateral action against these terrorist organizations.
MANSINGH: Well, we have said that we have all the options open before us. We are right now trying the diplomatic option. Hopefully this will succeed.
We are glad that President Bush has sent a strong message. The G-8 ministers, who are meeting in Moscow, have issued a statement urging the same thing. And we expect this to produce results.
SNOW: Now, it's interesting. The president seems to have had a change of heart between Friday and Saturday. Friday he was speaking to reporters, saying that he was heartened by the arrest of 50 by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Yesterday, we are led to believe that he had a pretty kind conversation, or at least a pretty cordial conversation with your prime minister, Vajpayee, but, on the other hand, that he had a stern talk with Pervez Musharraf.
Is that your understanding as well?
MANSINGH: Well, I'm glad. I mean, that's what appears to be. I'm glad because I think the president has realized that just token gestures are not really going to be effective.
What he said yesterday was, he expects Pakistan to take strong, decisive steps to eliminate the terrorist groups. That's what we're asking for.
SNOW: Now, a lot of people are worried that the Pakistani army now is going to be moving its forces to your common border, and as a result, is not going to be able to take care of people filtering out of Afghanistan, in particular Al Qaeda fighters.
Could that not also pose a danger to you, if Al Qaeda fighters make their way across the Pakistani border and toward Kashmir?
MANSINGH: Well, as a matter of fact, the Al Qaeda leadership has already fled into Pakistan. Our concern is that from Pakistan they will make a beeline for Jammu and Kashmir and carry on more terrorist activities.
Now, this threat of removing troops from one front to the another, it just sounds to me like blackmail. Now, you don't need to move troops. You don't need to do anything, except to shut down the terrorist groups within that country.
What do they need for mobilizing troops and sending them to the border? We're not threatening Pakistan with war.
SNOW: You're not threatening? You've got tens of thousands of troops on the border. Certainly, they don't look at that as the welcome wagon.
MANSINGH: They're not there to attack Pakistan. If at all, they're there to attack terrorism. I think we are on the same side.
SNOW: Do you think that President Musharraf looks at it that way?
MANSINGH: He should. If the terrorists in his country have been attacking India with the official blessings and support of his establishment, I think he has to own up responsibility. And it's not India provoking Pakistan, it's the other way around.
SNOW: His government has suggested having a joint commission between your government and his to try and figure out who is responsible for the December 13 slaughter in your legislature. Why not do that?
MANSINGH: Well, just look back. When President Bush said he will take action if the Taliban do not surrender Al Qaeda, Pakistan said, what is the proof that the Al Qaeda has any support from the Taliban? Then they asked, what is the proof that bin Laden was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?
SNOW: So, you don't think they'll be a credible investigating force?
MANSINGH: Of course not, especially as there is complicity by the Pakistani official organizations in what has been happening in India.
SNOW: Is it also the position of your government that Prime Minister Vajpayee will not meet with President Musharraf at the end of the week when there is a summit in Nepal?
MANSINGH: We have tried that before. You remember that the prime minister invited President Musharraf to come to India for a summit meeting and we thought we would have a meaningful discussion of the issues that divide us.
That didn't work out because President Musharraf would not discuss things that really are vitally important. He won't acknowledge that terrorism is taking place in Kashmir. He was terming them as "freedom fighters." He won't discuss anything except Jammu and Kashmir. We want to discuss everything.
SNOW: For those in our audience, those are disputed territories and have been since 1947, at least areas of contention.
Let me close by asking, you say that you have no intention of going to war. You've got tens of thousands of troops there. If you have no intention of going to war, why are they there?
MANSINGH: Just as the United States puts its forces on alert after the attack on September 11, our forces went on alert after the ghastly attack on the parliament.
SNOW: Do you expect further attacks?
MANSINGH: We do expect further attacks. And we're not going to sit back and wait for them.
SNOW: Will the United States have to play the role of peace- broker here?
MANSINGH: The United States is playing a very constructive role. I think the message that the president has sent is timely. And we hope that Pakistan will get the message.
SNOW: Lalit Mansingh, ambassador of India to the United States, thanks for joining us.
MANSINGH: Thank you, Tony.