Bin Laden killing deepens Indian distrust of Pakistan
India has long said that arch-rival Pakistan has been unwilling to quash terrorism. For many, Osama bin Laden's killing bolsters that view.
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India has long held that its neighbor and arch rival is unable – or unwilling – to quash terrorism within its borders. That Mr. bin Laden had lived, before being shot dead by US commandos May 2, in an Army town only an hour’s drive from the capital, Islamabad, was the clearest vindication of that view yet.
"We take note with grave concern that part of the statement in which President Obama said that the fire fight in which Osama bin Laden was killed took place in Abbottabad 'deep inside Pakistan,' " India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in a statement. "This fact underlines our concern that terrorists belonging to different organizations find sanctuary in Pakistan."
Newspaper headline writers were less circumspect. “US kills bin Laden in – you knew it – Pakistan,” proclaimed the daily Asian Age. "Pak unmasked" was the breaking news line on a major Indian news channel; another pondered whether bin Laden had, in fact, died in a safe house belonging to Pakistan’s ISI spy agency.
And hawks weighed in. The head of India's Army, Gen. VK Singh, told journalists Wednesday that India had the capability to carry out a similar strike on Pakistan – prompting warnings from Pakistan that India should not do that.
Ordinary Indians, meanwhile, who tend to take little interest in news beyond their borders, were gripped by the events. News of bin Laden’s death attracted 42 million television viewers, according to Audience Measurement and Analytics, a rating agency.
“We feel very bad about Pakistan now," says Jabamalai Mary, a domestic servant in New Delhi. “We know that America has given them a lot money."
From the political establishment to ordinary people, this week’s events have only deepened the distrust felt by Indians towards Pakistan. The two nations have fought three wars since 1947 and the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir remains a sore point between them. A fragile peace process launched by the government of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was halted following the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, when 166 people were killed in a three-day rampage by gunmen trained by Pakistani militants.