Pakistan should prosecute Mumbai perpetrators: US

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Improvement of India-Pakistan ties hinges a great deal on action taken by Islamabad to bring perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack to justice, according to a top US diplomat.

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The Mumbai attack has been a major setback to the Indo-Pak peace process, Robert O. Blake, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday at his confirmation hearing as Obama’s new point man for South and Central Asia.

“They’ve taken some steps to bring cases against nine of the suspects in Mumbai attacks. But now it’s important that they prosecute them,” he said.

A former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in New Delhi, Blake was most recently ambassador to Sri Lanka. If confirmed he would replace Richard Boucher as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs.

“I believe that concerted action by the Pakistanis against not only those suspects but against Lashkar-e-Taiba would enable the two countries to regain some of the progress and restart some of the progress that they’ve made in the composite dialogue and other areas of their cooperation,” Blake said.

“Prior to the attacks in Mumbai, the governments of India and Pakistan were making quite good progress in forging closer relations across a broad range of fronts. They had something called the ‘composite dialogue’, which had a number of components to it to try to address some of the most ticklish issues in Indo-Pak relations,” he said.

Blake said “the US and India have strengthened counter-terrorism cooperation in response to those attacks. The United States helped in the investigation. And we will continue to be involved in that.”

However he stressed that the improvement of relationship between the two countries can only be done by Islamabad and New Delhi themselves. “The US, as a friend of both countries, has always offered advice and ideas, and we will continue to do so,” Blake said.