NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has named five Pakistani army officers in a list of 50 criminals it wants extradited to stand trial on terror charges, the first time India has directly accused serving Pakistani military officers of being involved with militancy.
The “most-wanted” list was handed to Pakistan in March, but its contents have only just been released. The timing of the release coincides with increasing pressure on Pakistan over claims it harboured Osama bin Laden.
Indian Home Secretary G.K. Pillai presented the list to his Pakistani counterpart, Qamar Zaman Choudhary, during a meeting in March, a senior government official with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of harbouring militants such as the those behind the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people, who it says were supported by the country’s military intelligence agency, the ISI.
In addition to five serving majors in the Pakistan army, the list includes accused underworld leader Dawood Ibrahim, and suspected members of militant groups al Qaeda, Lakshar-e-Toiba and Jasih-e-Mohammed.
U.S. special forces killed bin Laden at his home in a military town 50 km (30 miles) from Islamabad this month, leading to accusations that security agencies were either incompetent or sheltering the word’s most wanted man.
Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since 1947. The two sides have been making tentative moves to revive a sluggish 2004 peace process that was broken off by New Delhi following the Mumbai attacks.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Afghanistan “in the near future” to discuss security and development, a senior government official said on Wednesday, amid regional uncertainty following bin Laden’s death.
Any quickening of the endgame in Afghanistan is a concern for India, which fears a U.S. withdrawal would leave it exposed to an unfriendly, Pakistan-dominated neighbourhood and unfettered militancy in its backyard.
Reporting by Henry Foy and C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by Nick Macfie