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The US can't do anything to better Indo-Pak ties: Expert

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | December 05, 2008 09:05 IST

A leading American expert on South Asia says there is nothing that the United States can do to better the strained Indo-Pak relations following the Mumbai terror attacks despite the visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images] to both the countries.

"We had $12 billion pumped into that system (in Pakistan) and yet we cannot even get them to do anything. I am actually very sceptical that the US can do anything very meaningful in Pakistan where the civilian administration does not have any control on the Taliban [Images] infrastructure," C. Christine Fair, Senior Political Scientist, at Rand Corporation, one of the leading think tanks in the US, told rediff.com.

"Historically, she said LeT has been very tightly connected to the ISI and that was one of the reasons why initially I did not think that LeT did it (the attack on Mumbai) because that would be a very provocative move as it would be an affront on US-Pakistan relations as well as Pakistan-India relations," she said.

"But now it is clear that LeT is behind the attack. The next question that emerges is that 'does this mean that LeT is no more controlled by the ISI as we used to think.' But we do not know the answer to the question as yet,' she said.

"I do not want to speculate, because it is dangerous speculation, but I can say this much that until this attack I was pretty much of the conviction that the LeT was the handmaid of the ISI and I think a lot of people had that view as well,"  Fair said.

In her 2004 book, The Counterterror Coalitions: Cooperation with Pakistan and India, in which Fair examined US strategic relations with India and Pakistan, both historically and in the context of the global war on terrorism, Fair noted that Pakistan's unwillingness to halt its active role in supporting militant operations in 'Indian-held Kashmir' and elsewhere challenges US interests in reducing terrorism.

In response to a question, during the brief interview, Fair said she was not sure if the ISI and LeT connection is still there.

 "I do not know if too many people would say that the  LeT and ISI do not have contacts. But the question is whether the ISI had anything to do with this particular attack on Mumbai," she said.

She said another thing that a lot of people have not paid attention to is the fact that this is the first time the terrorists have targeted American citizens in India although they have been targeting American civilians in Afghanistan and US troops and NATO troops.

Does this terrorist strike on India, which has squarely blamed Islamabad [Images] for the mayhem, can lead the two countries to a war-like situation like during the Kargil [Images] crisis?

Fai said that her sense is that that United States does not want India to do that.

"I know that the US is very keen that Pakistan is not given any excuse for mobilizing its troops on the border," she said.

Also, she said, everyone believes that the civilian government in Pakistan is the best way forward.

"Many Indians I have talked to believe that a military move may not be the option because of the nuclear situation because you do not want to do anything to destabilize this civilian government," she said.

To another question she said what Pakistan needs to do for itself and for everyone else in the world is to do something about these militant groups on its soil.

"But I am pretty certain that is not going to happen. I will be very surprised actually, if that happens. I mean seven years later (since 9/11) the terrorist groups are still running around and mocking about (the US) on their websites," Fair said.

"The failure to control terrorist activities by Islamabad is probably a reflection of both the lack of willingness and capability on the part of Pakistan," she said in response to another question.

"But I do not believe that the average Pakistani has so much love in his or her heart that they would be a massive outrage if they arrested these people.  I think the real barriers are going to be the army and the intelligence agencies.  I am sorry I can't be more optimistic. We are all so shocked," Fair said. 

SEE ALSO:

Rice changes tone when in Pakistan

LeT tied in with the Pakistan government: Analyst

 






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