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US expects more from Pak to fight terror: Kerry

Last updated on: May 18, 2011 12:49 IST
Just back from a trip to Pakistan, United States Senator John Kerry says the Obama administration expected more from that country to root out terrorist groups holed up there, observing a "fullness of measure of effort" is now required.

The comments by Kerry, who had several rounds of discussions with Pakistan's top leadership, came even as another top Senator Richard Lugar asserted that Pakistan is playing a "double game" and warned that going after some terrorists while "coddling others" may force the Obama administration to cut off aid to Islamabad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile said the Obama administration is working very hard to have an understanding with Pakistani leadership on the best way forward in counter-terrorism operations and bilateral relationship after killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 1.

Kerry told members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee of which he is the chairman, "Should we expect more from Pakistan? Absolutely. Is it tolerable that some of these entities (terrorist groups) are sitting there on the ground and there isn't a fullness of measure of effort (by Pakistan) against them? No, it's not." Kerry was briefing the committee members in less than a few hours he landed in Washington, from a long flight from Islamabad.

"That's exactly the conversation that we're engaged in now," he said, but was quick to point out that most of the discussion he had with the Pakistani leadership during the weekend's trip to Islamabad needs to be discussed in a classified session. "I expect the Obama administration in the next days to be pressing the details of that, building on what we've created as an outline in the last few days, and I think we can get somewhere," he said.

The senator also said this is no longer a time for issuing joint statements. "Now, the proof is in the pudding. I made it very, very clear. This is no longer a time for joint statements issued, everybody goes about their way and there are four more weeks of delay. And, you know, we can't afford that. But they can't afford it either. And I think that's the understanding everybody's arrived at," he said.

Kerry, who is considered to be close to US President Barack Obama said that US would be able to protect its interest even if there is no cooperation from Pakistan and the access to Afghanistan is blocked by Islamabad. But that option would be expensive and put to risk lives of more Americans. Kerry said while bin Laden's death opened a door in Afghanistan, it has complicated US relationship with Pakistan. "While the Pakistani leadership and people initially reacted by praising our actions in Abbottabad, the subsequent discourse in Pakistan, unfortunately, became quite sharp and quite critical because of the issue of sovereignty and the questions surrounding the raid itself," he said, giving his first hand impression of the ground realities inside that country.

"I'm not at liberty to go into all the details of some of the things that we will do in specific terms, but I'm encouraged by them, and I think there is great ability here to actually shift the dynamics of the entire relationship between Afghanistan-Pakistan, Pakistan-US, and all three and India, and ultimately change the long-term strategic interests of the region. But that will depend on quiet and effective diplomacy over the course of these next weeks," Kerry said.

Richard Lugar at a Congressional hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, "Although Pakistan has cooperated with the United States in many significant ways, including the fight against terrorism, Americans are increasingly exasperated by the difficulties of the relationship." "Especially in light of the raid to eliminate Osama bin Laden, who was hiding out for years in Pakistan near Islamabad and military facilities, many critics have accused Pakistan of duplicity, of playing a double game. The event has created, or perhaps exposed, what Pakistan's prime minister has called 'a trust deficit,'" said the ranking Republican.

Asserting that Pakistan is playing a double game, and is in permanent hostility towards India, he asked Islamabad to cut off all kind of relationship with terrorists and change its policies, or else warned that US would be forced to cut-off aid but also take other tough measures against it. The Obama administration should "make it clear to Pakistan's military that going after some terrorists while coddling others will not be tolerated," he underlined.

Lugar said Pakistan must do much more than it has to root out terrorists in Pakistan. "This includes the Haqqani network in northwest Pakistan, which launches attacks against Americans in Afghanistan, and the Taliban, which can find refuge virtually unmolested in those parts of Pakistan along Afghanistan's southern border," he said.

Lugar said it is time that Pakistanis must recognise that the US does not give out blank cheques. Noting that America's substantial military aid comes with a requirement that the president certify that Pakistan is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their affiliates, Lugar said after the raid against bin Laden, it is an open question whether the president could make that determination. He also said Pakistan "with a sizeable nuclear arsenal is in a permanent state of hostility towards India, with which the United States has close relations".

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