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Finally, US gets tough with Pakistan's 'shifty position'

December 21, 2008 17:20 IST

In a tough message to Pakistan, the United States has said that it is not satisfied with what Islamabad has done so far to eradicate terrorism from its soil after the Mumbai attack, which was not an ordinary event which can be "swept under the carpet."

The message was conveyed by top American officials to Pakistani National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani, who was summoned to Washington as the US government was "getting increasingly frustrated with what it views as Islamabad's shifty and shifting position on the Mumbai attacks and their aftermath," the Daily Times newspaper reported.

Durrani on Saturday concluded his unannounced three-day US visit during which he met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his American counterpart Stephen Hadley and Pentagon officials.

In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice said on Wednesday that what Pakistan had done so far to catch those responsible for the Mumbai attacks was not enough.

She said her message to the Pakistani leadership was "...you need to deal with the terrorism problem. And it's not enough to say these are non-state actors. If they're operating from Pakistani territory, then they have to be dealt with."

A 'much stronger message' was conveyed by Rice during a meeting with Durrani, US and diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by the 'Dawn' newspaper.

The Pakistani team, which included Ambassador Hussain Haqqani, learnt from Rice and Hadley that the US is not satisfied with what Pakistan "had done so far for eradicating terrorism from its soil".

A senior diplomatic source said, "The curt message that Mr Durrani and the Pakistani team received from the Americans was: this is not 2002 and you cannot do what President (Pervez) Musharraf did after 9/11...In the past, you swept everything under the carpet while the problems were allowed to fester. No more."

The Pakistanis were told that the Mumbai attacks were no ordinary event and the tendency in Pakistan to deal with this as a minor incident was going to hurt it, the sources said.

The US officials "insisted that they had enough evidence to prove that Lashker-e-Tayiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawah were involved in the Mumbai attacks and they wanted concrete action against all such groups", they said.

"They told the Pakistanis to understand the gravity of the situation and the seriousness of the evidence that exists to
Pakistan's links to this event," said a source.

"The message the Americans gave was: This is the third time we are saying such a thing. We may not be able to bail you out the fourth time. Global terrorism is not just an India-Pakistan dispute. We see LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah at par with the Al Qaida. Pakistan should stop thinking of this as just another round of India-Pakistan altercations," the source said.

The Pakistani embassy in Washington kept Durrani's visit tightly under wraps and did not tell journalists about his arrival or the reason for his visit.

Contradictory statements on the Mumbai attacks from the top Pakistani leadership have cast doubts on Islamabad's "willingness, and even its ability, to take the follow-up action it has committed itself to," the Daily Times said.

Rice also told Durrani that Pakistan "needs to do better and while declarations of good intent are to be commended, they have to be translated through actions," it reported.

US officials were dismayed by such statements as the one that said Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar had left the country after it had been officially announced that he was under house arrest, it added.

Statements by premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that charitable institutions run by JuD would be allowed to keep functioning have cast further doubts on Pakistan's sincerity in taking necessary action, sources said.

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