Will keep spotlight on epicentre of global terrorism: Jaishankar on 26/11 anniversary
India will keep the world community’s focus on Pakistan’s role in cross-border terrorism, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on the 12th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks even as the US reaffirmed its commitment to hold responsible the perpetrators of the carnage in India’s financial hub.
A 10-member group of terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had launched attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. A total of 166 people, including six American nationals, were killed as the terrorists rampaged through parts of the city for almost three days.
“Will keep the global spotlight firmly on the menace of cross-border terrorism against India. And on the epicentre of global terrorism,” Jaishankar, currently on a three-nation tour of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles, said in a tweet without naming Pakistan.
The US state department’s bureau of South and Central Asian affairs tweeted, “On the 12th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, the US reaffirms its commitment to holding the perpetrators accountable and ensuring justice for the victims, including six Americans.”
The tweet added, “Standing alongside our Indian partners, we remain resolute in the fight against terrorism.”
Indian officials often use the term “epicentre of terrorism” to refer to Pakistan, which arrested seven men, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, weeks after the attacks in Mumbai. Though the men were put on trial and dozens of prosecution witnesses testified about their involvement in planning, funding and supporting the attacks, little headway has been made in their prosecution.
Lakhvi was freed on bail more than five years ago and his current whereabouts are unknown. Reports from Pakistan have suggested that he has resumed an active role in the operations of the UN-designated LeT at a time when several of the group’s top leadership, including founder Hafiz Saeed, are in jail after being convicted of terror financing.
State department spokesperson Cale Brown, in a separate tweet, referred to the reward of up to $5 million offered through the US Rewards for Justice programme for information about individuals responsible for these attacks, and said Washington seeks to “ensure that all those responsible for this heinous attack face justice”.
According to the Rewards for Justice website, key members of the plot behind the Mumbai attacks “remain at large, and this investigation remains active and ongoing”. Indian and US officials believe the seven men arrested by Pakistani authorities were mostly minor players and key conspirators, including intelligence operatives and Pakistan Army officials, are still at large.
Jaishankar also paid homage to victims of the terror attacks and lauded the security forces “who continue to defend our nation so resolutely”.
US ambassador Kenneth Juster also said in a tweet, “On the 12th anniversary of 26/11, our thoughts are with the people of India as we continue to stand together in the fight against terrorism.”
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