Pakistan must punish perpetrators of Mumbai terror: US experts (Lead)

February 10th, 2009 - 2:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) Pakistan must punish those involved in the Mumbai massacre while undercutting extremist propaganda that lays the groundwork for such incidents, say two US experts, even while advising India to address the shortfalls in its homeland security.

They have also suggested that India and the US should pursue a robust dialogue to share counter-terrorism strategies in the wake of Mumbai terror attack blamed on Pakistan based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Much like the effects of 9/11 on the US, the Mumbai attacks have catalysed Indian efforts to adopt a more integrated and structured approach to homeland security, said Lisa Curtis and Jena Baker McNeill of the Heritage Foundation in a commentary.

Curtis is senior research fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Centre, and Jena Baker McNeill is policy analyst for Homeland Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at the conservative think tank.

The US and India alike should recognise the value of their shared experiences in the war on terrorism, they said, noting: “One of the most important aspects of terrorism prevention is undercutting the terrorists’ support base while denying terrorists access to money, training, and weapons.

“Additionally, counter-terrorism measures must disrupt terrorists’ ability to propagate their message, recruit new members, and network with cohorts and other supporters,” Curtis and McNeill said.

“Therefore, the most important measures that can be taken to prevent another Mumbai-like attack anywhere in the world is for Pakistan to punish those involved in the inspiration, planning, training, and equipping of the terrorists while proactively undercutting the extremist propaganda that led to the Mumbai massacre,” the experts said.

Pakistan has allowed the LeT to operate openly in the country since the early 1990s.

However, since the Mumbai massacre, Islamabad has raided key LeT training facilities, shut down several LeT offices throughout the country, arrested and detained key LeT members, and pledged to turn over administration of the LeT headquarters outside of Lahore to government authorities.

These are positive, albeit much belated, steps, the experts said. “But Islamabad must go further: It must prosecute individuals found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks and shut down LeT’s ability to sustain itself as a terrorist organisation.”

The Mumbai attacks were a wake-up call for India regarding the urgent need to address its homeland security shortfalls and to institute a more effective nationwide approach to countering terrorism, the experts said. There is much room to expand US-India cooperation on matters of intelligence and homeland security.

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