Pak's terror havens main hurdle to normal ties: India



New Delhi: Safe havens for terrorists inside Pakistan were the "main hurdle" to normalising relations, India said on Friday and also expressed "serious concern" over reports of Chinese armed personnel in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

Defence Minister AK Antony, interacting with reporters after inaugurating the unified commanders' conference here, said if Pakistan was sincere in improving relations with India, it should first destroy the terror infrastructure on its soil.

With reports suggesting the presence of Chinese armed forces personnel in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Antony also expressed serious concern over the development.

"It is a matter of serious concern to us," Antony said.

"The main thing is, we also have to increase our capabilities. That is the only answer," he said when queried how India would meet the challenge posed by the China-Pakistan nexus.

Though Antony said he was not willing to talk about the WikiLeaks expose on American diplomatic cables from Pakistan, he said it was a "known fact" that elements in Pakistan's government structures were supporting terrorists. He, however, did not name the neighbour's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

A US diplomatic cable dated Oct 28, 2008 suggested Islamabad knew who carried out the 2008 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul.

"I don't want to comment on the leaks. But at the same time, we know very well there are elements in Pakistan in various structures, which are supporting the terrorists. It is a known fact to everybody," he said to a question on the WikiLeaks cables.

"In fact, that is the main hurdle for our normalising relations between India and Pakistan. The safe havens for terrorists, recruitment of the terrorists...these are the main concerns for us.

"We feel if Pakistan wants to sincerely improve relations with India, they should disband all terrorist outfits in Pakistan soil. They must destroy, dismantle all the safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan soil," he added.

While denying ISI's hand in the 2008 bombing of Indian Embassy in Kabul, Pakistan's national security adviser to the prime minister Mahmud Ali Durrani had reportedly admitted to his then Indian counterpart M.K. Narayanan that Pakistan had contacts with "bad guys" and "one of them" could have carried out the attack.

Two senior officials at the Indian embassy were among the 58 killed in the suicide bombing July 7, 2008, in which India said the ISI had a hand.

Asked about the Indian armed forces' assessment of the impact of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by US special forces May 1 inside Pakistan's Abbottabad, Antony said he would not be able to discuss the details in public.

"But they (armed forces) must be vigilant now. There can be fallout in the neighbourhood. It can affect India also. I told the armed forces, they have to be more vigilant," he said.

Antony said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's view on India not intending to do an Abbottabad-style operation made during his recent Kabul visit was "binding" on the government.

He said the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting Thursday had not discussed Pakistan. "We are not meeting to discuss one country-specific issues. The whole security scenario will come to our review and if there is any specific agenda. Yesterday, Pakistan was not the agenda," he added.

IANS