Pakistan should rein in Lashkar-e-Toiba: US

Last Updated: Saturday, March 13, 2010 - 12:06

Washington: Welcoming India-Pakistan dialogue stalled since the Mumbai terror attack blamed on Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the United States has asked Islamabad to rein in the terror group with "increasingly global ambitions and global scope”.
"We think that a group like Lashkar-e-Toiba, which is widely believed to have been responsible for the bombings in Mumbai, is a terrorist group based in Pakistan that has increasingly global ambitions and global scope," said Robert O Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs.

"And so it`s in the interest of Pakistan to rein in the activities of LeT," he said in an interview with Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, according to a transcript released by the State Department.

"I think it`s significant that this is the first time that either of those countries have had talks in either Islamabad or New Delhi, since the November, 2008 bombings in Mumbai," he said referring to the recent foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan in New Delhi.

"So that, in itself, is important, and I think the dialogue between two friends of the United States is something that we very much welcome," Blake said.

"Obviously, the pace and the scope and the timing of the dialogue is really up to the two countries to determine. As a friend of both of those countries, the United States, again, welcomes those dialogues, but we`re not directly involved in the talks in any way."

"But, we do believe that one of the most important things to work on is this issue of terrorism, because, I think, it`s something that threatens not only both of these countries but also the United States," Blake said.

The US official agreed that it was also critical for the US national interest to ensure that Pakistan concentrates on the war in Afghanistan and not on the Indian side.

"Right. India - Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh has already made clear that Pakistan should not consider India a threat," Blake noted

"And I think that we`ve welcomed the decision by Pakistan to redeploy troops away from the Indian border to the principal area of focus, which is along the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan."

"So, we hope that that will continue to be the focus of the Pakistani military and therefore peace between the two countries of India and Pakistan is very essential to that effort in the border areas."

"We have successfully dehyphenated our relations," Blake said. "And, right now, I think you`ve seen the United States not only place an important focus on India, but also on Pakistan," he said.

Blake said the US was trying to convey that "we really do see a long-term partnership with Pakistan, to help build that country and ... to address the terrorist threats that, we should remember, have claimed the lives of more Pakistanis than anyone else.

"So, this is very much in Pakistan`s own interest, to pursue those various objectives."

IANS



First Published: Saturday, March 13, 2010 - 12:06

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