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Pak still not doing all to clamp down on LeT: US expert

Last Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 21:10

Washington: Due to its India fixation, Pakistan still isn`t doing everything in its power to clamp down on Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), blamed for 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the Foreign Policy magazine suggests.
Citing non-action against LeT as one of the "three huge ways Pakistan still isn`t co-operating", David Kenner writes suggesting the dramatic capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has revived a long-dormant spirit of optimism regarding the US-led effort in Afghanistan.

But "there are still a slew of outstanding issues between the two countries that appear no closer to resolution".

For years, US officials have accused the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of maintaining links to tribal patriarch Jalaluddin Haqqani.

The ISI is thought to maintain its ties to Haqqani because it perceives his organization as a valuable asset in countering Indian influence in Afghanistan, Kenner writes noting that "Pakistan`s fixation with India has also led the country to sponsor Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a paramilitary group focused on forcing India out of Kashmir".

The November 26, 2008 "Mumbai massacre raised to a fever pitch Western and Indian calls for Pakistan to crack down on the organisation. But if anything, LeT has only escalated its activities in the past year", he says.

"Pakistan has restricted the aboveground organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, but not to a significant degree," notes Stephen Tankel, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of the forthcoming `Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Toiba`.

"They can operate under different names, and they continue to raise funds."

Whether or not LeT`s leadership ordered the Pune attack, Tankel says: "The group has clearly been emboldened and is ramping up its transnational activities." That isn`t exactly an encouraging sign that Pakistan is doing everything in its power to clamp down on the organisation.

Pakistan has charged seven individuals for involvement in the planning of the Mumbai attacks, including LeT`s operational commander and the plot`s alleged mastermind, Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Although this is an important step, Western and Indian officials have been frustrated by the trial`s slow pace-and particularly disappointed by a Pakistani court`s decision to free Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who they accuse of being behind the attack, Kenner notes.

In addition to New Delhi`s anger that Saeed is not facing trial, Tankel stated, "there is concern on the Indian side that there are other people who aren`t being tried, who should be tried". He added that some in India have also alleged Pakistan is inflating the importance of several of the LeT functionaries who are on trial.

Pakistan also maintains extensive contacts with underground figures with connections to India, most notoriously the Mumbai-born crime boss Dawood Ibrahim, according to a January Congressional Research Service report.

Ibrahim subsequently relocated to Karachi, where under the ISI`s protection, his organization has "developed links to Lashkar-e-Toiba" and "found common cause with al Qaeda and shares its smuggling routes with that terrorist group", the report says.

Pakistan has ignored repeated requests from India to extradite Ibrahim -- most recently, on the suspicion that he played a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The lack of progress in resolving these outstanding issues should discourage the United States from expecting a volte-face from Pakistan, writes Kenner.

"You have to remember the [Pakistani] military is in some ways very cautious," says Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia Program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.


First Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 21:10

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