News / Asia

Bin Laden Killing Confirms Pakistan is Sanctuary for Terrorists, Says India

People burn a photograph of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as they celebrate his death in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, May 2, 2011.
People burn a photograph of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as they celebrate his death in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, May 2, 2011.

Senior Indian offcials reacted with "grave concern" Monday to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. operation in Pakistan, saying the news confirms that Pakistan continues to shelter terrorists.  

India’s foreign minister welcomed the news of bin Laden’s death as a "victorious milestone" in the war against terrorism. However, the statement from S.M. Krishna said the world must press on to "eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries that have been provided to terrorists in our own neighborhood."

India has long been concerned about terrorist threats originating in Pakistan and Indian security forces have been put on high alert for possible reprisal attacks following bin Laden’s death.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in a statement, that bin Laden’s hideout located deep inside Pakistan underlines India’s concern that the country is a sanctuary for "terrorists belonging to different organizations."

Bharat Karnad, with Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, has advised the government for years on national security policy. He says nobody should be shocked that Bin Laden was found a few hours’ drive from Islamabad.

"It’s not exactly a revelation, says Karnad. "Everyone knew about this, as much in Washington as in Delhi. The question was, really, what would it take for the U.S. to act on the information," he says.

U.S. officials had suspected that bin Laden was hiding in the rugged border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Karnad says Indian intelligence officials had long tried to convince the United States that bin Laden was in Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan. But he complains U.S. officials delayed taking action.

"They didn’t follow through on what was said. Or, they tried to act as if though they didn’t know what the Indians were talking about.  Because our intelligence penetration of Pakistan is pretty good. I think it’s pretty damn good." says Karnad.

Indian officials have pressed Pakistan for years to hunt down the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Indian home minister Monday released a statement that repeated India’s long-held assertion that the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks continue to be sheltered in Pakistan.

Security analyst Karnad also brushed aside Pakistan’s assertions it did not know bin Laden’s location.

"If you have a presence of this kind, it’s not possible - it’s simply not plausible - that the Pakistan army won’t know about it," Karnad says. "If it knew about it, then it’s reasonable to assume that they are part of the protection or the cover being provided by the Pakistan army."

Many Indians see bin Laden’s killing as vindication of their basic distrust of Pakistan. Still, recent attempts at boosting diplomatic dialogue between the two nuclear-armed neighbors are widely expected to continue.

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