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After Osama's death, India says no change on dialogue with Pakistan

Wednesday May 04, 2011 08:20:02 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: India said Wednesday that talks with Pakistan will continue, even as it expressed concern about the impact on Afghanistan by an early withdrawal of coalition forces following the killing of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

The world's most wanted terrorist was killed on the night of May 1-2 by a US security team that raided a mansion in Abbottabad near the Pakistani capital Islamabad he had been living in.

Stating that the killing was a "significant milestone", Indian officials described as "sensational" the fact that Osama was living so close to the capital and just a stone's throw from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.

"It vindicates our position that we have been saying that without the elimination of safe havens or sanctuaries in Pakistan, there is no end to the global war of terrorism," said official sources.

There will be no change in the timetable or tenor of dialogue with Pakistan, officials said. "Talks will continue - there is need to normalise relations. The best way is to engage with them."

It was pointed out that while Al Qaeda's operational capabilities had deteriorated in recent years, there were now several affiliated organisations which remain "formidable as ever".

"Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed remain a problem for India and Afghanistan - we will continue to press this point with the United States and also Pakistan. These guys are ideologically fused," said a senior government official.

When asked about the legality of the US action, official sources said that Americans had not much choice but to launch this operation, as Pakistan did not seem cooperative in taking action.

"The full story has still not be told. We would like to hear from the US on the way that they had done the planning and the extent of Pakistani involvement," said an official.

Admitting that India had "drawn a blank" in getting any wanted criminals extradited from Pakistan, official sources, however, added that it will not be pragmatic to assume that India could launch an operation similar to the US raid.

"Foreign policy is not wish fulfillment. It has to deal with the realities…We are not being helpless. There is a reasonable, sober way of dealing with our neighbour," said sources.

They said that the relationship between India and Pakistan, just as between the US and Pakistan, is complicated, conflicted and contentious. "Effort are on to reduce the contentiousness," said the official.

But, it was stated that to see any results, sustained dialogue was required. "Our geography is our destiny," said the senior government source, adding: "It's easy to be hawkish on Pakistan."

"The idea is not to humiliate Pakistan. If we bring them to their knees, then what?"

There was also the realisation that India cannot expect the United States to do the heavy-lifting to put pressure on Pakistan to take action against terror groups. "The US is not going to put our coals in the fire. We should accept that. We are in this alone," said sources.

They noted that there had been differences over US policy in the region in the past, and this will continue in the future. "We had to eat much bitterness in the past, and will continue to eat bitterness."

Government sources said it would be wrong to assume that there would be faster withdrawal of the US and other forces from Afghanistan as a result of Osama's elimination.

"Nobody who is committed to Afghanistan would want a precipitous withdrawal of coalition forces," said a senior official.

It was asserted that the "jihadi mindset" is not so easily discarded. "To leave Afghanistan now would be repetition of what had happened 20-30 years earlier. The US has learnt the lessons from that," sources said.

They also scoffed at Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir's stating that the demand for justice for the 26/11 masterminds was outdated. "I don't think it was a serious statement," said a source.






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