India did not play into Mumbai attackers’ hands: Holbrooke

February 19th, 2009 - 11:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 19 (IANS) India did not play into the hands of the masterminds of the Mumbai terrorist attacks who had aimed to upset the improving India-Pakistan relationship, according to a top US official.

The Nov 26 terrorist attack was conducted by “very shrewd and ruthless murderers”, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke told the PBS news channel in an interview.

“Terrorists who launched that attack tried to upset the improving relationship between Pakistan and India.” But New Delhi did not play into their hands, he said praising India’s restraint in avoiding a conflict.

“The Indians restrained themselves and the Pakistanis did not move their troops to the border. We have got to understand that to get the Pakistanis focus on the West we have to have the reduction of tension between India and Pakistan,” Holbrooke said.

The envoy said he had very excellent consultations with Indian leaders and officials during his visit to India earlier this week to ascertain New Delhi’s views on how to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, along with the US, share a common threat from terrorists, who are “located in the same area and come from the same routes”, Holbrooke said.

“People who did 9/11 in the US, the people who attacked Mumbai and the people who seized Swat all come from the same routes and all are located in the same area,” he said.

The US, Holbrooke, said was “troubled” and “confused” over the latest developments in the restive Swat valley where Pakistan has agreed to impose Islamic law as part of a controversial peace deal with the deal.

“We are troubled and confused in the sense about what happened in Swat, because it is not an encouraging trend,” he said in a break from the wait-and-watch attitude adopted by Washington’s foreign policy establishment.

The Pakistanis are shocked at the fall of the picturesque Swat, which is after all a resort they all went to for vacations, Holbrooke said. “So we have a situation in the area which is very serious. This is what we inherited.

“Previous ceasefires have broken down and we do not want to see territory ceded to the bad guys. The people who took over Swat are very bad people,” Holbrooke noted.

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