NEW DELHI: The killing of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden near Islamabad is further evidence that terrorists find “sanctuary” in Pakistan, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Monday.
“We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the firefight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad 'deep inside Pakistan',” Chidambaram said in a statement.
“This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in Pakistan,” Chidambaram said as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged Islamabad to take action against militants.
“The international community and Pakistan in particular must work comprehensively to end the activities of all such groups who threaten civilised behaviour and kill innocent men, women and children,” Singh said.
The premier said he hoped bin Laden's killing would deal a “decisive blow to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”
India accuses Pakistan of providing shelter and support to militant groups planning attacks on Indian soil and has repeatedly pushed the global community - the United States in particular - to censure Pakistan accordingly.
US President Barack Obama said the operation to kill bin Laden was the result of cooperation with Pakistan, but US officials admitted that they had not informed Islamabad before the strike by US forces.
Home Minister Chidambaram focused on India's belief that perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks continue to be sheltered in Pakistan.
“We once again call upon the government of Pakistan to arrest the persons whose names have been handed over,” he said.
In a separate statement, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said the US success in killing bin Laden was an “historic development and victorious milestone” in the global war on terror.
But, in another clear reference to Pakistan, he also stressed the need to root out militant safe havens in South Asia.
“The world must not let down its united effort to overcome terrorism and eliminate the safe havens and sanctuaries that have been provided to terrorists in our own neighbourhood,” he said.
The same message was hammered home by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who said Pakistan had a long history of denying evidence that it was aiding and abetting militant groups.
“This incident establishes that Pakistan has been sheltering terrorists and now the country must take steps against them,” he told reporters after visiting a military post in the desert region of Jaisalmer bordering Pakistan.
Lalit Mansingh, a former ambassador to the United States, said he believed Obama's mention of Pakistani cooperation was aimed at deflecting any criticism that the US special operation may have infringed Pakistani sovereignty.
“The fact is that Pakistan is going to have to answer some uncomfortable questions arising from this, not least of which is how bin Laden was able to hide so close to Islamabad for so long,” Mansingh told AFP.
“One suspects he must have had some help from figures in the Pakistani establishment,” he added.