Sunday, October 30, 2011

No let-up in pressure on Pakistan: India

NEW DELHI, October 29, 2011,

New Delhi\'s statement comes after Hillary\'s testimony before Senate panel

Indian diplomats have denied that there is any let-up in pressure on Pakistan to rein in the Lashkar-e-Taiba as a consequence of the uptick in relations between the two countries.

In a testimony at a congressional hearing on the U.S. policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reported to have hinted that her administration was refraining from exerting more pressure on Islamabad to shut down the proscribed terrorist group in the interests of encouraging the dialogue process.

But a senior Indian official told The Hindu on Saturday that New Delhi had made "no request for pressure to be eased in connection with the Lashkar-e-Taiba."

Though the U.S. continued to press for the prosecution of suspects involved in the 26/11 carnage, Ms. Clinton said, its policy "has to be carefully coordinated with Indian concerns." "As you know," she told the Senate\'s Foreign Affairs Committee, "India is trying to improve relations with Pakistan right now and there [are] actually some very productive discussions going on."

Ms. Clinton\'s remarks were made in the course of an exchange with congressman Ed Royce, who voiced fears that a fresh Lashkar attack could lead to an India-Pakistan confrontation, and asked if the administration would consider making action against the Lashkar "a condition in terms of that scorecard that, reportedly, we keep with Pakistan."

The Secretary of State said she did "not want to commit [herself] at this time to taking such a path because I think it\'s important that there be further consideration of all the implications."

Pakistani diplomats have long said they are committed to dismantling the Lashkar-e-Taiba\'s military capabilities, but argue that the country is in no position to engage in a frontal confrontation with the organisation\'s several thousand-strong cadre.

New Delhi-based diplomatic sources, however, said they were aware that India remained concerned at Pakistan\'s failure to prosecute at least seven suspects wanted for the 26/11 attacks, and its rejection of calls to take legal action against the top Lashkar leadership.

The sources, however, acknowledged that India had toned down its public statements on Pakistan\'s links with terrorist groups. India, they noted, had refrained from commenting on the alleged culpability of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate in harbouring the slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, and made no statement on the reported involvement of a Pakistani Lashkar operative in last month\'s bombing at the Delhi High Court.

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