Bring 26/11 suspects to justice soon, US tells Pak

American envoy meets Singh, Chidambaram

Bring 26/11 suspects to justice soon, US tells Pak

US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer

The US envoy to India, Timothy J Roemer, told journalists that “swift and lengthy punishment” for six 26/11 suspects in Pakistan was “important for both US and India”.

Roemer called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday and is believed to have briefed them about the US efforts to prod Pakistan into taking actions against Saeed, whom New Delhi suspects as one of the key plotters of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Saeed, an influential cleric, is based in Lahore and heads the JuD – a front of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which organised the carnage in the capital of Maharashtra.

Ahead of the External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York next week, Roemer indicated that Washington would continue to put pressure on Islamabad in order to bring Saeed to justice and to get the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan dismantled. “Going after Hafiz Saeed and dismantling terror infrastructure in that region is extremely important for both US and India,” he said.

The fresh US move to make Pakistan act against Saeed and other 26/11 masterminds comes just a few days after Chidambaram returned from a tour to Washington. He is believed to have told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that it would be difficult for New Delhi to move towards resumption of Composite Dialogue with Islamabad unless the latter did not stop dilly-dallying with the trial of Saeed and other 26/11 masterminds.

The Composite Dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad had started in February, 2004. But India stalled the process after the attacks in Mumbai, stating that it would not resume talks unless Pakistan brings to justice the plotters of the carnage and dismantles all terrorist infrastructures in its territory.

Saeed was put under house arrest by the Pakistani government on December 11 last year after the United Nations in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai included him and three others as well as the JuD itself in the list of individuals and organisations known to support Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The JuD chief, however, was released by the Lahore High Court on June 3 last. New Delhi said that Islamabad was dilly-dallying with the trial of Saeed, although it was provided with enough evidence to prove his role in plotting the attack and indoctrinating the 10-member LeT squad that had carried it out.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had agreed in the Egyptian city of Sharm-El-Sheikh on July 16 last that the Foreign Ministers of both the countries would meet on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York. India has of late been projecting the trial of Saeed as an acid test for Pakistan to prove its sincerity to combat the menace of terrorism.  Singh is likely to meet US President Barack Obama during the G-20 meet in Pittsburg next week. He will also travel to US again in November.

“The upcoming official state visit, the first by a foreign leader during the Obama Administration, is a testament to the vital importance of the US-India strategic partnership in addressing our greatest global challenges,” said Roemer.

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