New Delhi: Hafiz Saeed, the terror mastermind behind 26/11 in Mumbai and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief was released two days ago by a Lahore court for want of evidence. In view of this, the United States has issued a travel advisory for India and Pakistan.
The country has warned its citiizens that there could be an upsurge in terror activities in India and Pakistan now that Saeed is on the loose.
US diplomat Larry Shwartz says, "There was speculation in the Indian media about enhanced terror threat in the country and we have an obligation to our citizens, so we have issued a travel advisory. It is nothing dramatic, but reflects the perception of the Indian media."
The advisory issued on Tuesday instructs US government personnel to cancel all travel to and from Peshawar for the next 24 hours in response to a security threat. It advises American citizens to ensure their safety and security, maintain a low profile, take different routes while travelling and ensure travel documents are valid at all times, presumably to allow them to leave India in a hurry.
However, tThe advisory has resulted in a diplomatic and political storm with at least two Cabinet ministers in India coming out sharply against the move.
Defence Minister A K Antony has said, "India the safest place in the world", while Home Minister P Chidambaram added, "We will ask the US to withdraw it this advisory."
Nonetheless, this is easier said then done. Intelligence officials say its unlikely the advisory will be withdrawn just because the Indian side so demands.
Security agencies do fear a terror strike by the Lashkar-e-Toiba specifically - one that's bigger then 26/11. Security agencies say that southern states - because of their long coastline - and leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are more vulnerable.
While it's a fact that Indian Intelligence agencies have been warning of a possible terror attack ever since elections were announced, what has got the Indian side in a flap is the timing of the adivsory and the perceived attempts by the US to equate India with Pakistan where terror attacks are concerned.