Haven for outlaws

It is futile to think that the publication by the Indian government of a list of 50 most wanted fugitives from Indian law living in Pakistan would have any impact on that country. The names have been given to Pakistan in the past but Islamabad has always denied that they were in Pakistan.  In the case of some, like Laskar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Saeed, where a denial is not possible, Islamabad has expressed its inability to take any action.

If one of the masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, was arrested, it is ensured there is no progress in the case against him. The existence of the most wanted of them all, Dawood Ibrahim, in Karachi is stoutly denied though there is overwhelming evidence of his living a public life there.  Most of those who are wanted by India for crimes committed against this country or for working against India’s national security, live in Pakistan, protected by the government or its agencies.

This is no surprise because Pakistan had always denied, and continues to deny knowledge of,  the presence of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin laden in that country, in spite of the enormous US economic, political and military clout and Pakistan’s dependence on the US. So, if India thought it could put pressure on Pakistan by revealing the names, it is mistaken. The US killed Osama in Pakistan through a covert armed operation.

That option is not available and may not even be advisable for India for various reasons. The very mention by Indian army chief Gen V K Singh that Indian forces are capable of conducting such an operation drew a sharp response from his Pakistani counterpart that any such action would invite a catastrophic response.

Pakistan will continue to harbour these outlaws and anti-India elements and use them as assets to hurt India as long as India-Pakistan relations remain what they are. The only use of making their names public is to remind the world of Pakistan’s double talk and unfriendly conduct. Since any US-style action by India to capture any wanted person is unthinkable now, the army chief’s comment was inappropriate and unnecessary. It only helped Pakistan divert the world’s attention to a perceived threat from India. Military personnel should exercise restraint in their words and the recent trend among them to shoot their mouths off is unhelpful.

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