US asks Pakistan to “act forcefully” to stem terror threat

December 12th, 2008 - 11:19 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 12 (IANS) The United States has asked Islamabad to “act forcefully” in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that have brought about a “dangerous situation” though Washington does not fear a war between India and Pakistan.”I heard no bellicose talk from either of these governments. I heard instead a very deep concern to deal with the situation,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with CNBC TV channel Thursday.

“But it’s obviously a dangerous situation. And Pakistan needs to act and act forcefully,” she said when asked if she thought there will be war between India and Pakistan.

“Fortunately, we’re in a little bit better situation than we were in 2001-2002 when really the two states were on the verge of war, because India and Pakistan have done a lot of work to improve their relations,” said Rice.

“Frankly, the United States has better relations with India and better relations with Pakistan than in 2001-2002,” said the top US diplomat who visited both India and Pakistan to ease tensions between the two after the Mumbai attacks.

Rice said she was in India to do a couple of things. “First, to send a very strong message of solidarity and support to the Indian people and their government and particularly to the people of Mumbai because this was a terrible attack, a heinous crime.”

“And I think the Indians rightly were concerned to make sure that the perpetrators were brought to justice, and that follow-on attacks were prevented,” she added.

She then went on to Pakistan to emphasise with the civilian government in Pakistan that this was a time to act, that the fact that Pakistani soil had been used by these non-state actors to carry out an attack. It was also a matter of deep concern to the US as Americans also died in the attack.

Rice said “so far at least some steps seem to be taken that may lead to those two goals: bring the perpetrators to justice and getting India and Pakistan to cooperate to make certain that future attacks don’t take place.”

The official said she had talked to the Indians about a response that would actually be commensurate with the goals.

“Anything that, in fact, would make the situation worse or might introduce (inaudible) consequences is not going to be good for the stability of the region, or really, it isn’t going to address what needs to be done, and that was also my message to India.”

Asked what worried her as she gets ready to step down, Rice listed how to prevent a terrorist attack at the top. “Obviously, going after their safe havens is important, because those safe havens constitute places of danger.

“We have seen the problems that the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan create for stability in Afghanistan, as well as for stability in Pakistan, because some of the terrorists who are using that region are actually attacking Pakistan.”

“I think we’ve seen in Mumbai that the terrorism problem then in Pakistan becomes a problem for India, and so on and so on. So I would point to these ungoverned regions,” Rice said.

The US had developed very good working relations with China “where we don’t actually share values, but we share interests,” she said in reply to another question.

But “you can contrast it with a country like India, where we really have a transformed relationship, a deeper and broader relationship than ever, there we share values and interests with this great multiethnic democracy.”

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