New Delhi: Pakistan’s crackdown on terrorists blamed by India for the Mumbai attacks may just be an attempt to deflect international pressure, Indian officials and diplomats said on Wednesday, calling for more decisive action.
Pakistan is under more pressure than ever before to act swiftly because the United States sees cooperation in the Mumbai attacks investigation as part of Islamabad’s commitment to the global war on terror, the experts said.
“Now is the time when they have to establish this is not just business as usual,” a senior Indian government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. “This is an eyewash. We want action that meets our concern.”
New Delhi wants Islamabad to hand over 20 men it blames for terrorist attacks, including the one on Mumbai, and has urged the UN Security Council to proscribe a Pakistani charity group it says is a front for a banned militant organisation.
Pakistan has ruled out handing over the men India wants.
“There is no modicum of doubt about the complicity of elements of Pakistan, including the ISI,” the official said, using an abbreviation for Pakistan’s feared spy agency, Inter Services Intelligence.
India has not reacted formally to the arrest of Pakistan-based terrorists, including two members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group named by India as suspects in the conspiracy behind last month’s attack on Mumbai which killed 179 people, including 26 foreigners.
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah were being held for questioning after the Pakistani military raided a Lashkar camp.
But India is not satisfied because it says the ISI’s links with jihadi groups fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir region raised doubts that investigations would be transparent.
Distrust also stems from past experience. Lashkar and another militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, were blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.
“At that time Pakistan banned both groups and Azhar and (Lashkar founder) Hafiz Saeed were arrested to show the world they are taking action,” said B. Raman, former head of India’s external spy agency.
“Once global attention waned, they quietly let all of them go. This time also Pakistan will be hoping once the world forgets then they can be back to doing what they have been doing.” But some analysts say pressure on Pakistan this time is much more than in 2001.
“This time foreigners were killed, Israelis were killed, and there is tremendous pressure on the United States to keep up the pressure on the Pakistani government and the military,” said Shashank, former Indian foreign secretary.
“How much Pakistan will deliver will depend on how much pressure there is from the West, which may not be seeing the Mumbai attack in isolation from its wider war on terror.”