Washington: The arrest of a key handler of Pakistani terrorists who struck Mumbai is a "tremendous breakthrough" in India's 26/11 probe, a US expert has said, asking Pakistan to act against the perpetrators or else it may face global isolation and slide towards "pariah state status".
"With the arrest of terrorist handler Abu Jundal ... on June 21, India has made a tremendous breakthrough in the investigations of the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 166 people, including six American citizens," said Lisa Curtis of Heritage Foundation.
Indian investigators had been tracking Jundal, who was in Saudi Arabia for two years on a Pakistani passport, and eventually requested the Saudis to deport him, she noted.
"The US likely assisted India in tracking Jundal and may have even weighed in to pressure the Saudis to deport him to India," Curtis said, noting that he is an Indian national from Maharashtra who is believed to have helped train and direct the Mumbai attackers in real time, via cell phone from Pakistan.
Jundal's "alleged confession that Pakistani intelligence officials were present in the control room from which he directed the attackers is explosive. If true, these accusations will undermine an already shaky US-Pakistan relationship and further tarnish Pakistan's global image, as the gruesome attacks were televised across the world over a three-day period that happened to coincide with the American Thanksgiving holiday," she said.
Curtis, a noted expert on South Asia, said Pakistan has dragged its feet on investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in the 2008 attacks.
Moreover, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed roams the country freely, giving speeches and even flirting with the idea of becoming involved in Pakistani politics, she said.
"The spectacle of a terrorist leader taking on a national political voice in Pakistan has amplified the impression that Pakistan's leaders are either unable or unwilling to control terrorism within their borders," she wrote.
"Pakistan must take action against any individuals involved in the Mumbai attacks, even if it means punishing serving intelligence officials. Doing otherwise would only hasten the country's international isolation and slide towards pariah state status," Curtis said.