The United States has not always been very cooperative with India in the matter of getting Pakistan terrorists operating against India, punished. As Deccan Herald (28 June) noted in commenting on the arrest of Zabi-ud-din Ansari aka Abu Jundal, in this case “US pressure on Riyadh is said to have forced the latter to hand over Jundal to India rather than to Pakistan”. How come? As the paper put it, in the past “Washington has prevented such extraditions in a desperate bid to shield its ‘allies’ in Pakistan”. wrote the paper: “It (US) repeatedly failed to step up to support India’s war against terror, seeing this as different and distinct from its own concerns over terrorist group like the Al Qaeda. Thus many key plotters who were vital links between the Lashkars and the ISI were ‘protected’ by the US. The US role in getting Jundal extradited to India represents a welcome, albeit a long-awaited shift. Whether it is a one-off event to embarrass Islamabad at a time when US-Pakistan relations have run into trouble or reflects a change in policy remains to be seen”.
The paper said Jundal’s arrest is a “prize catch”. Jundal is said to have played a role in several terror attacks in India. and he is an Indian Muslim. Like the Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express as early as 8 May, 2012 had charged the US with double standards. Commenting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s three-day recent visit to India, the paper had suggested that “the UPA government must ask her to unequivocally define US stand on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism targetting India”. it had further made the point that the UPA “must firmly tell her that the US aid to Pakistan amounts to indirectly funding instruments of terror inside Pakistan”. Perhaps the US government has taken the unsought advise seriously in advising Saudi Arabia to extradite Jundal to India. Now the paper (28 June) wonders whether Pakistan, in claiming to release a long-imprisoned Indian was only trying to divert attention from Ansari’s disclosure of Pakistan’s – especially the ISI’s – culpability in supporting terrorism against India. “It would not be in-appropriate” the paper concluded, now for the government to re-think its Track-2 diplomacy and to energetically demand action from Pakistan against the real perpetrators of the terror attacks in India”.
The Hindu (28 June) commenting on the arrest of Ansari thought it “marks a small step forward in the slow march of Justice”. The paper said: “New Delhi has succeeded in pushing the United States to take its counter-terrorism concern seriously”. It also noted the cooperation of Saudi Arabia, maintaining that “Riyadh’s increasing cooperation with Indian counter terrorism interests is also driven by its appreciation of the realities of a changing world.” “More important” said the paper, that cooperation was because “Saudi diplomats wish to wean India away from its long-standing relationship with their key regional adversary, Iran”. The paper said that there are three things India ought to do to deal with the situation. First, it said, India’s “high officials must resist the temptation to engage in the kinds of media-driven verbal India-Pakistan mudslinging”. Secondly, it said, “India must conduct the prosecution of Ansari as transparently as possible”. Finally, it said, India must anticipate and counter threats “using all tools at its disposal”, considering that “with the influence of jihadi groups in Pakistan waxing, there will be new threats to India.”
The Times of India (27 June) said Ansari’s arrest represents a major diplomatic victory for New Delhi in the sense that “both the US and Saudi Arabia provided vital cooperation to nab him”. It advised Pakistan to “bear in mind that concrete cooperation on its part would be a game-changer and provide a huge fillip to the bilateral peace progress” and “would bridge the trust deficit that plagues the resolution of other outstanding issues such as Kashmir and Siachin”. “Shielding international terrorist activities, the paper said, “is bound to increasingly isolate Pakistan”. Hindustan Times (27 June) noted that “the Abu Jundal case shows that Pakistan has no friends when it comes to terrorism”. The lesson that Pakistan must draw from the arrest of Jundal, said the paper “is that international tolerance for its sponsorship of terrorism is waning”. The US, it said, “has ready made the jump when it comes to the LeT”. The paper added: “Pakistan should reflect on why the countries it counts as its closet friends have become increasingly willing to take India’s side on the terrorist issue”. Pointing out that Pakistan’s use to terrorism has spilt into other countries, the paper said “Beijing is infuriated that Pakistan’s safe havens have become homes for radicals targeting China”.
The Asian Age (27 June) said that “Saudi Arabia’s obliging attitude speaks of the level of understanding at least in certain matters, New Delhi has been able to establish with Riyadh, although the Saudis have been Pakistan’s best friend, along with China, for decades”. The paper, however, said that “this does not at all mean that New Delhi will now be obliged to choose between Saudi Arabia and Iran, between whom there is no love lost” and India does not have to be caught in that cross-fire.
Hindustan Times (26 June) reports that “taking bilateral ties on the homeland security front to a higher level, officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have assured their Indian counterparts that they would “not hesitate to extradite even American nationals to India if New Delhi proved that they were involved in terrorist activities”. Apparently this was conveyed to visiting Indian officials on the side-lines of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue meeting in Washington on 13 June. Surely, things are moving in Indo-US relations in the right direction.