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Confront Pak on anti-India terror groups: US lawmakers

September 16, 2011 16:19 IST

Two top United Stastes lawmakers have questioned Pakistan's "duplicative role" in the war against terror, blaming Inter-Services Intelligence for aiding extremists, particularly against India, while criticising the Obama administration's lack of assertiveness against Islamabad on the issue.

Congressman Brad Sherman said at a Congressional hearing on India-US relationships Thursday that the US should confront Islamabad on its duplicative role, pointing out that Pakistan-based terror groups with links to Al Qaeda, have inflicted a series of attacks on India.

"I've consistently called the State Department and others in our government to call out Pakistan for its often duplicative role in the struggle against terror. Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, has for too long aided violent extremists," he said.

"Several Pakistani groups including Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed have links to al-Qaeda. These groups have launched numerous attacks against the Indian population and government, including the deadly assault against the Indian parliament in New Delhi in 2001," he said.

He recalled that Pakistan government's "hands" were also seen in the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008, arguing that a failure to point out the Pakistani connection to terrorism will only serve to perpetuate it.

"We have to work with those we can work in Pakistan, but we must be more effective in calling out, and, in the words of Secretary Clinton, lean hard on Islamabad," he said.

"Simply put, the militants targeting India are also the militants targeting us. Indeed, at a subcommittee hearing on the future of Al Qaeda after bin Laden's death, many experts placed just as much importance on Pakistan-based LeT as any Al Qaeda affiliate," he said, describing LeT as India's "mortal enemy" that has now gone global with its sights on Western targets.

Congressman Ed Royce, who is also co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India, said the US does not seem to have emphasised hard that Pakistan makes progress on bringing the Mumbai attackers to justice.

Seven accused in the Mumbai attack case are presently undergoing trial in a Pakistani court but India has complained that Pakistan has not taken action against Jamat-ud- Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, whom India regards as the mastermind of the Mumbai attack.

"This week Vice President Biden said of Pakistan, they have to get better; we are demanding it. But are we?" asked Ed Royce.

While pointing to a Wall Street Journal report that said the US has begun to condition security assistance to Pakistan on a secret scorecard of objectives to combat Al Qaeda and its militant allies, Royce doubted the scorecard included against Mumbai attackers.

"Although details are classified, from the journal's reporting, it does not seem that the US has put emphasis on Pakistan making further progress on Mumbai attackers or LeT in this scorecard," Royce said.

"I think this would be shortsighted if it's the case. I think this has to do with tearing down barriers that might be in the way of greater cooperation with India.

"As one witness will testify, the US cannot allow its national security to be held hostage by nearly two decades of unfulfilled expectations in Pakistan," the Congressman said.

He said over the past decade, US relations with India have grown considerably but have been hit by a "lull".

"Counter-terrorism cooperation is a way to reinvigorate this relationship, and it's a way to better protect America," he said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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