Washington, Oct 28: The US is persistently asking Pakistan to take action against LeT that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said but was non-committal on including this in the American scorecard on Islamabad as sought by a Congressional committee.
Clinton said the US would continue to press Pakistan over its failure to bring to book those responsible for 26/11 attacks but any move to link this action to aid needed consideration.
“I do not want to commit at this time to taking such a path because I think it's important that there be further consideration of all of the implications,” Clinton said at a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan last evening.
“Every time we meet with the Pakistanis, we press them on LeT about the continuing failure, in our view, to fulfill all of the requirements necessary for prosecution related to the Mumbai attacks and we will continue to do so,” she said.
Clinton was responding to a question from influential Congressman Ed Royce, who is also the co-chair of the India Caucus in the House of Representatives. She also said that India was trying to improve ties with Pakistan and any US policy on the issue has to be coordinated with the country.
“Well, of course, we worry about that very, very much. We discuss it in great depth with our Indian counterparts, because it is, first and foremost, a concern of theirs. It is obviously also concerning to us, but we have designated them. We are, you know, certainly raising their continuing presence and activities on a regular basis,” Clinton said.
“But I think that our policy has to be carefully coordinated with the Indian concerns. As you know, India is trying to improve relations with Pakistan right now and there are actually some very productive discussions going on,” Clinton said.
Royce argued that if the issue was not taken up more strongly and made conditional to aid, such actions by the LeT supported by elements in the ISI could lead to conflict between India and Pakistan.
“I almost wonder when you look at the Mumbai attacks; when you look at the attacks on Delhi, and then you find the connection to ISI or former ISI officials who were involved in the operation; when you look at some of the other operations where you find out ISI was involved in the training, it leads you to question what's the intention from an intelligence perspective of sending in a force, allowing them sanctuary, allowing them to base on your home territory, and then carrying out civilian terrorist attacks on a neighbouring country,” Royce said.
“It would seem to me that the potential for conflict created by this type of trip-wire is very, very great. That is why I think this has to be elevated in terms of the discussion with Pakistan. I think it has to be conditional,” he said.
Questioning Pakistan's commitment to counter all terror outfits on equal footing, Royce said Islamabad cannot be selective in targeting the groups attacking its leadership while allowing a free hand to “ISI agents to assist other terrorist organisations that are targeting neighbouring states or, as Admiral (Mike) Mullen said, targeting US troops, that they get this kind of cooperation.”
He said the ‘scorecard' needs to be broadened to include LeT. “Do you think there's a potential for this spinning out of control in terms of the types of attacks that have been carried out on the capital and the major financial centres of India by the LeT?” he asked.