Some positive steps by Pakistan, but not enough: US

December 20th, 2008 - 10:15 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 20 (IANS) Pakistan has taken some “positive steps” after the Mumbai terror attacks for which India has blamed a Pakistan-based terrorist group but “they are not nearly enough”, according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.During her recent visit to the region to show solidarity with India and ask Pakistan to deal with the terror groups operating from its territory, she found that civilians “were very much in charge and making decisions”, Rice said at an event here.

“It’s a new civilian government just finding its footing in Pakistan. But it seemed to me that the civilians were very much in charge and making decisions,” she said when asked if the civilian government in Pakistan has control over its military, security forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“And thus far, we’ve seen some positive steps, though they’re not nearly enough at this point,” she said at the event at the Council on Foreign Relations here Wednesday, according to a transcript released by the State Department Friday.

Rice said she “didn’t hear a different line from the military and from the civilians”.

“In fact, I heard from the military that they want the civilian government to succeed. They recognise that the civilian government has to, therefore, be the responsible entity for Pakistan. And I’m certain that there are and will be civil-military tension,” she added.

India has accused Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) of having orchestrated the Nov 26 Mumbai carnage that killed over 170 people, including 26 foreigners, six of whom were Americans.

Rice said after the Mumbai attack “it was obviously a very serious situation and the president (George Bush) wanted me to go and to express our solidarity with India and condolences there”.

The top US diplomat said she had to also “deliver a very strong message that, of course, Americans had also died in that attack. And so this was also of concern to the United States.”

Rice noted that since the 2001 crisis over Kashmir, the US “has developed a very strong relationship with India”.

“It has broadened and deepened, and I do think it has helped us through this crisis, because there’s a level of trust with India that I think was not there in 2001 when we had to get through the military mobilisation that attended the crisis in Kashmir,” she said.

The US also has a good relationship with the new civilian government in Pakistan, Rice said, “But there, the message had to be: you need to deal with the terrorism problem.”

“And it’s not enough to say these are non-state actors. If they’re operating from Pakistani territory, then they have to be dealt with.”

“The good news,” Rice said, “is that I found on both sides a desire to actually work through the conflict. I don’t think anybody wanted to escalate it. No one was speaking in belligerent language.”

“And if Pakistan continues to work to really deal with the terrorism problem, and if India can do the hard work of both helping to bring the perpetrators to justice and trying to prevent the next attack, then I think we can get through this crisis,” she added.

In reply to a question about a drop in America’s standing internationally, Rice differed, saying: “I think I could also note that in some of the most populous countries in the world - China, India, and Vietnam - America’s standing has never been higher.”

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