‘Pakistan must punish Mumbai masterminds to show who is in charge’

January 9th, 2009 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Jan 9 (IANS) A noted US analyst says Pakistan must punish the masterminds behind the Mumbai terror attacks to demonstrate that the government and not the terrorists will set the country’ future course.”The Pakistan military’s years of support for jihadist groups fighting in Afghanistan and India as well as intensifying linkages between Pakistani homegrown terrorists and Al Qaeda is costing Pakistan dearly,” said Lisa Curtis.

“In fact, Islamabad’s foreign and domestic policies have become hostage to the agenda of these irrational, deadly actors who also increasingly target Pakistani institutions,” added Curtis, Research Fellow for South Asia at the Heritage Foundation, an influential Washington think tank.

“Pakistan must punish the masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks, not only to defuse the crisis with India, but to demonstrate that the government of Pakistan - not the terrorists - will set the future course of events for the country,” she wrote.

Curtis said it would be a grave error for Islamabad to refrain from punishing those responsible for the senseless acts of murder in Mumbai under the excuse that such action would give the appearance of Pakistan succumbing to Indian pressure.

“This is not only about the India-Pakistan relationship, nor even just about the future of the US-Pakistan relationship - it is about the future of Pakistan itself and whether its leaders can rise to the occasion to overcome the terrorist scourge that now threatens to unravel the country.”

“Although Indian officials have declared they do not want military conflict with Pakistan, they also cannot tolerate lack of concrete action in Pakistan against the culprits, especially as the evidence grows ever so damning,” Curtis said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said, had upped the ante with Pakistan by hinting that official elements within Pakistan “must have been involved” in the Nov 26 - 29 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Up until Tuesday, New Delhi had carefully avoided blaming Pakistan directly for the attacks even as it demanded Islamabad take action against the Pakistan-based terrorist group responsible for the atrocities, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), Curtis noted.

Manmohan Singh’s new accusations demonstrate in part New Delhi’s mounting frustration over Islamabad’s refusal to even admit the attackers were Pakistani, despite overwhelming evidence pointing in this direction, Curtis said.

Noting the “dramatic” political fall-out from Islamabad finally admitting that the lone surviving Mumbai attacker was a Pakistani citizen, Curtis said: “We may never know the full story behind Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani firing National Security Advisor Mahmud Ali Durrani.

But “the incident demonstrates just how fragile Pakistan’s internal political situation remains,” she said. (Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in )

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