India, Pakistan sharing intelligence?

May 21st, 2009 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 21 (IANS) Pakistan and India have begun sharing intelligence on Islamist extremists with the prodding of the US, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing unnamed officials.

The Central Intelligence Agency arranged for Pakistan and India to share information on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group widely blamed for last November’s terrorist attack on Mumbai, as well as on Taliban commanders who are leading the insurgency against Pakistan’s government, it said citing US officials.

Washington hopes that when India sees the intelligence and evidence that Islamabad is seriously fighting the militants in some areas, it will ease its deployments against Pakistan - which in turn would prompt Islamabad to put even more focus on the battle at home, the leading US financial daily said.

“We have to satisfy the Mumbai question, and show India that the threat is abating,” a US official involved in developing Washington’s South Asia strategy was cited as saying.

Intelligence sharing on Mumbai has led to a somewhat more frequent exchange of information, the Journal said citing US and Pakistani officials.

India and Pakistan have shared “a lot” of information with each other about the Mumbai attack, an official at Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency was quoted as saying. He said the CIA was initially used as a conduit but the two countries now work directly with each other, while keeping the CIA in the loop.

The Pakistani official, according to the Journal cautioned, “We’re not going to tell them everything we know and they’re not going to tell us everything they know. Nobody expects that to happen. … But we’re talking about [the attack]. We weren’t doing that in December.”

A US official was cited as saying Washington isn’t “under any illusions” about the difficulty of erasing decades-old suspicions between India and Pakistan, but sees some progress.

US officials, the daily said, hope that a calming of tensions can allow India’s Congress Party government, strengthened by its election victory, to resume peace talks with Pakistan over Kashmir. Some US officials believe Lashkar-e-Taiba orchestrated the assault specifically to undermine the peace process.

The Obama administration has been concerned that Lashkar could carry out a second strike on India in a bid to stoke a war, the Journal said.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies are stepping up efforts in the Pakistani tribal areas, tapping and tracking the location of the cellphones of Taliban commanders as well as taking pictures and collecting information in their training camps, it said citing “a person familiar with the efforts.”

The US shares this information with Pakistan, and sometimes with India, to reinforce the US argument that the Taliban threat to Pakistan is greater than the Indian threat.

The US also sometimes brings intelligence on Pakistan’s efforts to combat militants to India’s attention, with Pakistan’s consent, this person was quoted as saying.

Examples include showing Indian officials evidence of progress against militants in the Pakistani regions of Bajaur, Swat, and Buner.

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