Recognise the terror challenge within Pakistan: India to US

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : India has told the US to confront the reality that terrorism posed a great challenge within Pakistan, noting that the international war against terrorism cannot be segmented with various terrorist groups cemented in their ideology.

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“Al Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba have all fused, cemented together in their ideology of terror,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy Shyam Saran said here Monday at the Brookings Institute, a Washington think tank.

“We have to recognise there is a great challenge within Pakistan that needs to be confronted,” he said by building up civilian support. “Instead of looking at certain individuals, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) or the military to fight terrorism, we need need to have a much more nuanced approach.”

India, he said would be very supportive of US efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan “as we have very convergent interest in the region,” the former foreign secretary said.

India’s principal concern in Afghanistan was that it should not relapse into a pocket of terrorism as that would be a very worrisome development, he said noting India has given full support to a multi-party, multi-ethnic democratic set-up there.

Asking the US not to give up so easily, Saran noted that India’s focus on development- education, health, infrastructure – in Afghanistan had a “very very positive impact” earning tremendous support and goodwill of the Afghan people.

With the US set to unveil the Obama administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan later this week, he said a restoration of balance between development and security would be very welcome.

Earlier, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg noting that India has a “huge stake” in making sure both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan are stable, urged New Delhi to support Pakistan as it works to strengthen its democracy and fight extremists.

With President Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh expected to meet next week at a world economic summit in London, a central question for the leaders of the two powerful democracies, Steinberg said, will be how they can work together to combat extremism threatening South Asia.

The United States and India, Steinberg said, are “joined together” by the memories of the Sep 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US and the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai attack, blamed on the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“As President (Asif Ali) Zardari and the Pakistani government take courageous steps needed to confront and eliminate extremists, India and the US must work together with all our international partners to support them and facilitate democracy,” Steinberg said.

India has a big stake in the success of democratic government in Pakistan and is playing a very important role in South Asia, he said. “We encourage India to continue that.”