It is time for Pak to prosecute LeT leaders: Curtis

Washington: Pakistan must prosecute the LeT leaders who were involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, a top American expert on South Asia said on Thursday, a day after serial blasts in India`s financial hub killed 21 people.

"The US officials should do everything they can to counsel calm in both Islamabad and New Delhi," said Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation.

"They (the US officials) should also make clear to Pakistani officials that, whether or not the attack originated in Pakistan, now would be an opportune time to move ahead with the prosecutions of the LeT members involved in the 2008 attacks to show their good faith and help keep dialogue with India on track," she said.

Noting that the strength of the links of these bombings to the LeT will determine how India responds, Curtis said if investigators determine that LeT members played a crucial role in the planning and implementation of yesterday`s attacks, the Indian leadership will be compelled to again break off recently resumed talks with Islamabad.

Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in New Delhi later this month.

"If, on the other hand, investigations show that the Indian Mujahideen carried out these bombings largely on its own, there will be less pressure on Indian leaders to immediately withdraw from the Indo–Pak dialogue," she said.

In the six months before the November 2008 attacks (which were clearly carried out by the LeT), India suffered several terrorist attacks inside the country, most of which were claimed by the Indian Mujahideen.

"This led to concern in India about the growing threat posed by homegrown Islamist extremists," she said.

Curtis said there will be speculation in India that elements within Pakistan opposed to peace talks directed the attacks in order to halt dialogue.

The attacks also occur at a time of high turmoil within the Pakistan military over the Osama bin Laden operation and deteriorating relations with the US.

"Given the current uncertainty within the Pakistan military and volatile situation inside Pakistan, Indian leaders may be loath to escalate tensions with Pakistan," she said.