NEW DELHI —(AFP) India on Monday used the death of Osama bin Laden to denounce rival Pakistan as a terrorist "sanctuary," as it renewed calls for Islamabad to arrest suspects behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram said India noted with "grave concern" that bin Laden had been found hiding in a palatial villa less than two hours' drive from the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
"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.
|Bin Laden's compound 's proximity to Pak Military Academy|
"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.
India says the 10 gunmen who attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, killing 166 people, were members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.
India suspended peace talks with its long-time South Asian rival after the attacks.
That dialogue was recently resumed, but India has continued to criticise Pakistan for not doing enough to bring the organisers to justice.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars since attaining their independence in 1947, two over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
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.
Pakistan remains epicentre of global terror
Terming the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a confirmation that Pakistan remains the “epicentre of global terror”, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said India must ensure that those responsible for the 26/11 terrorist attacks must be handed over to it.
While Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, in her tweet called bin Laden “humanity’s enemy number one”, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said he (Laden) was the most visible and dangerous face of global jihadi terror.
“We demand that all the terrorists responsible for terror attacks from across the border must be handed over to India.
It is a litmus test for Pakistan. Government of India must acknowledge this fact in all future talks with Pakistan,” Mr. Prasad said.
He said, “He was killed in Pakistan, almost in the backyard of its capital, Islamabad. This is the final confirmation of the hard fact that Pakistan remains the epicentre of global terror where terrorism and terrorists both are allowed to be encouraged and given shelter.”
He further said that India is entitled to insist that perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attack must be handed over.
“We have been saying that Pakistan gives shelter to terrorists to attack India. Those who conspired in the Mumbai attack are still in safe sanctuaries...Pakistan government has stopped taking any action against them,” said Mr. Prasad.