US awaits shift in Pakistan’s dealings with Lashkar

December 11th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez MusharrafWashington, Dec 11 (IANS) Describing action taken so far by Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks as “serious and important steps”, US has said it’s awaiting a shift in Islamabad’s way of dealing with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).”What we are looking to see, if there’s going to be a shift in Pakistan in how they deal with LeT”, the Pakistan based terrorist organisation that India has blamed for the Nov 26 assault on its financial capital, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said Wednesday.

“And if it proves out over time that there is that shift, then that would be a good one and something that we would welcome. But it’s just too early for us to say,” she said when asked to comment about actions taken by Pakistan since the attacks.

The US, Perino said, continued “to urge the Pakistanis and the Indians to work together to get to the bottom of who was responsible for these attacks, and most importantly to try to prevent follow-on attacks for anyone that was left over”.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the Pakistani action as “serious, important steps” but said: “The fight against violent extremism, whether it’s in Pakistan, Afghanistan or even India, is an ongoing problem.

“It’s not a ‘one-off’ kind of issue. It requires constant attention. And we know that the Pakistani government understands that, as does the Afghan government, as well as a lot of other governments around the world.”

Asked if the arrest of a few militants by Pakistan was enough, McCormack said: “They’re good and important steps and the Pakistani government understands that they face a threat every single day, and that this is an endeavour that requires attention every single day.

“There are other aspects to this. There’s the aspect of bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks in Mumbai, and making sure that future attacks are prevented. And that’s something that needs to happen every single day.”

Asked if the US was finding any discernable difference between dealing with President Asif Ali Zardari and his predecessor Pervez Musharraf over such an issue, McCormack said: “I don’t know that I would compare and contrast. Look, both of these presidents have committed to fighting terrorists and violent extremists.

“And the fact of the matter is we have a new elected Pakistani government and we are working with them. And as Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice said during her visit, in all of her meetings she detected a seriousness of purpose in dealing with the threat of violent extremism.”

Asked if there is going to be any kind of change in policy in dealing with notorious Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, accused of running an international nuclear black market, McCormack said he would check to see “if we have heard, detected, discerned any possible change in his status”.

“I don’t think there’s any - certainly no question in our mind about that, what he was doing beforehand. And I don’t think there really is among members of the Pakistani Government as well,” he said.

Asked if Rice had any discussions with Zardari specifically about A.Q. Khan and that perhaps the US might one day question him, McCormack parried: “That has been an ongoing effort on our part. And again, I’ll check to see how we would describe that effort.

“I know that it’s gone in fits and starts over the years in terms of getting that information. There has been some information flow and it’s been quite helpful in rolling up other parts of the A.Q. Khan network.”

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