India facing same issues as US post 9/11: Rice

December 10th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the Mumbai terror attacks pose before India the same challenge that the US faced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks - how to get information to prevent future strikes.President George W. Bush was determined after the Sep 11, 2001, terror attacks to do everything that was within US domestic laws and international obligations to make sure that a follow-on attack was prevented, she said in an interview with the National Public Radio (NPR).

“And information to prevent an attack is the long pole in the tent when you’re dealing with terrorism. You can’t wait until somebody’s committed a crime and then go and punish them,” she said, defending the US treatment of terror suspects.

“The Indians - I was just in India because of the Mumbai attacks, and they were going through the same issue of how you prevent attacks and how do you get the information that you need to prevent attacks,” she said.

“But a lot has happened since those days. We’ve been able to know more about the structure of Al Qaeda. We have other ways to prevent attacks.”

“The Indian government is working hard to improve its own counter-terrorism capability, to get the information that you need to stop attacks, to do what we did in overcoming the kind of stove-piping that is really so detrimental to using information to become knowledge, to become actionable,” Rice said.

Asked if after her trip to India and Pakistan last week she was still worried about a possible conflict between the two countries over the Mumbai killings, Rice said: “Well, I think we have to be concerned because it’s obviously a time of great outrage in India.”

Rice said she had emphasised that terrorists were a threat to both Pakistan and India, and Islamabad needed to act since their territory had been used for these non-state actors to make those attacks.

“Also, Americans were killed, which gave the United States a special responsibility.”

The top US diplomat said she was “pleased to see that some steps are being taken, some important steps are being taken in Pakistan”.

“We are working hard to try and clarify and verify what is actually happening there, but there seem to be some positive steps being taken,” she added.

The terrorists also “wanted to abort what has been a positive direction in Pakistani-Indian relations”, Rice said noting “in 2001-2002, they really were on the brink of war after the Indian parliament was attacked.”

The relationship between Pakistan and India is very different now, she said with the Pakistani government, “a legitimate civilian government that has been reaching out to India, and vice versa.”

Asked if military officials in Pakistan were going to follow every lead, Rice said: “Well, they are - they seem to be making important steps.

“Nobody wants to escalate this conflict. And to escalate it is simply going to invite unintended consequences and perhaps circumstances that are worse than the ones that we face now,” she said.

The Pakistanis also “appear to be working to root out and to arrest some of these people, and that’s very important”.

Rice said she would certainly give her advice to the incoming Obama team about some things that are under way like relations with India and China.

“I think that we’ve had very good relations with India which have served us well during this recent crisis, and with China,” she said.

“In fact, when people talk about the image of the United States, I would just note that in the two most populous states, China and India, the United States is quite well-regarded.”

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