Pakistan territory used for Mumbai attacks; US seeks action against ‘non-state’ actors

December 8th, 2008 - 11:01 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 8 (IANS) With evidence that the terrorists did use Pakistan territory to stage Mumbai terror attacks, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told Islamabad that “non-state actors” acting from its territory are still its responsibility.”I think there’s no doubt that Pakistani territory was used by probably non-state actors,” she said in interviews with US television networks Sunday though she did not “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,” she told CNN.

With Islamabad’s ties with Washington as well as with India at stake, Pakistan must take action against the militants, Rice said. “The key here is that this investigation needs to go forward. It needs to be transparent,” she added.

Asked to clarify her use of the he word “probably,” Rice said: “I think that the evidence is that the terrorists did use territory in Pakistan.”

But she declined to say whether the terrorists trained in Pakistan or if they had any cooperation or if she believed that the Pakistan based terror group Lashkar e-Tayyiba was responsible for the Mumbai assault.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail here because, obviously, in counter-terrorism no one wants to tip the hand of what has happened here and what may happen in the future,” Rice said.

Asked about the relationship between Lashkar e-Tayyiba and the Pakistani government or its intelligence or military services, Rice said: “Well, there have been historic ties. There’s no doubt about that.

“But 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. We have to remember that Pakistan itself has been suffering at the hands of extremism,” she said.

“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, Rice said.

She made the same point on ABC saying: “I did say to the Pakistanis that the argument that these are non-state actors is not acceptable. In fact, non-state actors acting from your territory are still your responsibility.”

Asked to comment on a US media report that she had asked Pakistan to turn over and arrest the former head of Pakistani intelligence, Lt Gen Hamid Gul, Rice parried: “Well, I don’t want to get too detailed about this.

“This is counter-terrorism work, and, obviously, I don’t want to tip their hand or ours. But this is a time when Pakistan must act. They must act in concert with India, with the United States. Great Britain is helping.

Asked if India has the same right that the US believes it has to take action against threats on foreign soil, Rice avoided a direct answer. “There is no doubt that the Indian government, the Indian people are outraged. They feel
vulnerable. And they expect, as we do, Pakistan to act.

“But when it comes to something like this, it is important not to take steps that will make a situation worse.”

“In fact, it felt a little bit to me like the United States post-9/11. I certainly understand that. But in this case, there are actions that India could take that could make the situation worse, and we don’t need a crisis in South Asia.”

Asked if Pakistan agreed to a 48-hour timetable to take action as reported by the Washington Post, Rice told Fox News: “There’s not a timetable involved here. Obviously, this is counter-terrorism work. It’s hard work.”

“And it’s not as if these people are sitting on the surface. But Pakistan, the leaders in Pakistan, were very clear with me that they understood their responsibilities. And now we’re waiting. We expect things to happen,” she added.

Rice said she had made it very clear to Pakistan “that Americans also died in that attack, and that the United States expects the full and complete cooperation of Pakistan and Pakistani action; and that yes, it is a matter for our relationship.”

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