Rice unable to confirm whether Pak has arrested Lashkar commander

December 10th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec.10 (ANI): US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that she is unable to confirm whether the Pakistan Government has actually arrested the 16 to 20 extremists operating in that country, including Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi since last month’’s Mumbai terror attacks.
I believe they (Pakistan) have begun to do the right things. We are still gathering reports, we are not yet able to confirm a lot of what we are reading about arrests and about action against the camps, but these are serious steps and we are pleased at what appears to be a serious set of steps, CBS News quoted Rice, as saying.
I do believe something very important is going on here but I don”t want to have to speak for the details, Rice said.
Rice also declined to link the Laskhar-e-Taiba, widely suspected in the Mumbai attacks that killed 172 people in late November, to Al-Qaeda, which has made its stronghold in the tribal territories of northwest Pakistan that border Afghanistan.
Clearly, Pakistan cannot be focused on what is the real threat, which is the terrorist threat, and remain focused on the state-to-state threat that is beginning to subside, Rice added.
It benefits the terrorists. I believe that the Pakistani government understands that, the Pakistani military really understands that, and it is a very important moment for Pakistan to respond, and that is why we are gratified that some response has been made.
In the past week, Rice has demanded that Islamabad take prompt action against suspected terrorists and extremists on its soil, and has even gone to the extent of charging the Pakistani establishment with having historic ties with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In an interview to CNN on Sunday evening, Rice read out a charge-sheet against the Lashkar, spelling out the reasons for taking action against the group which, she said, was not only involved in the Mumbai attacks but also moved in “the same circles” as Al Qaeda.
“Well, there have been historic ties. There”’’s no doubt about that,” the Dawn quoted Rice as saying when asked if Lashkar leaders were trained and supported by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
But she quickly added that she believed Pakistan was no more involved with the group.
“Pakistan is a different place now with a civilian government and an army leadership that is working in concert to try to bring an end to extremism within Pakistan,” she said.
“We have to remember that Pakistan itself has been suffering at the hands of extremism. So whatever the history here - and there is a history - the important thing is that Pakistan act against those who used Pakistani soil to perpetrate attacks,” she added.
“I think there”’’s no doubt that Pakistani territory was used by probably non-state actors. I don””t think that there is compelling evidence of involvement of Pakistani officials. But I do think that Pakistan has a responsibility to act, and it doesn””t matter that they””re non-state actors. There were problems with this from Pakistani territory. There are historic problems from Pakistani territory in this regard,” she said.
Secretary Rice also said that when she visited Islamabad last week she “emphasised to the Pakistani government” that Americans were also killed in this attack and the US government had “a special interest” in this matter because of that.
Rice has dismissed a suggestion that President Asif Ali Zardari might not have complete control over all elements of his military and intelligence services. (ANI)

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