`India has half-a-dozen Osamas in Pakistan`

Several terrorists charged by India with mass killings on its soil have been living in Pakistan, an eminent American think tank has said.

Last Updated: Jun 04, 2011, 16:43 PM IST

Washington: Several terrorists charged by India with mass killings on its soil have been living in Pakistan, an eminent American think tank has said, noting that
the US has not yet made it a priority to hold Islamabad to account for the infiltration of militants across the border.

Indians have been watching the Pakistani Army send "armed young men with groups like (Lashkar-e-Toiba) across that border with impunity for years, and the United States has not made it a priority of holding Pakistan to account for the
rates of infiltration," Steve Coll, president and CEO of New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said at a Congressional hearing.

"It would be unreasonable to say you should have zero infiltrations into complex territory, big mountains, but the rates of infiltration that Pakistan has allowed suggest state policy," he told lawmakers.

It is important for Americans to understand that the ambiguity in the nature of the haven that Osama bin Laden found in Pakistan is not, by itself, unusual in the country, Coll said.

"From India`s perspective, there are five or six listed terrorists living around the country (Pakistan) in similar circumstances. Sometimes they`re judged to be under house arrest. Sometimes they`re notional fugitives. Sometimes they
really are difficult to find," he said yesterday.

Many of these people have either admitted to or been credibly charged with mass killings on Indian soil, Coll said, responding to questions of US lawmakers.

"So these patterns look outrageous to the United States when the personality is someone like Osama bin Laden. But in the context of the way Pakistan has evolved in the last 10 years, his (bin Laden) circumstances were not, by themselves,
unusual," he said.

Coll said the presence of bin Laden in a town like Abbottabad, certainly raises the question of whether ISI would not have been involved in such a racket.

"ISI is best understood as a criminal enterprise as well as a security agency. It`s involved in many rackets around the country," he said.

"The fundamental problem is that the Pakistani military and intelligence service has not been held accountable, over a long period of time, adequately, by its partners or by its own people. It has made it difficult for its own people to hold
the services accountable by often ruling directly, or suppressing those who question the military`s supremacy," he said.

Daniel Byman from the Georgetown University said that certainly components of the al-Qaeda network have been extremely useful to Pakistan in India and in Afghanistan.

"So it`s very hard for us to make progress on the counter-terrorism front without making progress on Afghanistan/Kashmir, which makes this exceptionally
difficult," he said.

"Pakistan has long had what it feels are strategic interests in both Afghanistan and India in terms of ensuring a friendly government in Afghanistan -- and I would say one dominated by Pakistan -- and with India, in preventing Kashmir
from becoming a normal part of the Indian union. As a result, it`s worked with a range of militant groups," he said.

Coll said the Pakistanis use their own weakness as a defence against accountability.

"But there are some areas where the state`s capacity to control terrorist activity is clear and one of those is in the cross-border movements of militants from Pakistani
territory into Kashmir, for example. That border is essentially a military zone. Nobody moves across that border without the Pakistan Army`s permission," he said.

PTI