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
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,"
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
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