At a time when India and Pakistan are making ‘huge strides’ in normalizing their strained ties, top US diplomat appears to be muddying the water again by saying that Islamabad has not done what it can to stamp out terrorism.
On day 2 of her tirade against Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We look to the government of Pakistan to do more.”
She was speaking at a joint news conference with her Indian counterpart SM Krishna as she wrapped up an eight-day Asian trip that also took her to China and Bangladesh.
“It needs to make sure that its territory is not used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks anywhere, including inside Pakistan, because the great unfortunate fact is that terrorists in Pakistan have killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis,” she said.
Krishna also stressed “the need for stronger action from Pakistan on terrorism, including on bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks”.
New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for the Mumbai attacks. The United States last month offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of LeT.
“Recent attacks in Kabul highlight once again the need for elimination of terrorist sanctuaries in the neighbourhood and the need for stronger action from Pakistan on terrorism, including on bringing to justice the perpetrators of (the) Mumbai terrorist attack,” Krishna said.
On Monday, Clinton pressed Pakistan over the presence of Hafiz Saeed. Speaking in Kolkata, Clinton had said that she was ‘well aware’ that Islamabad had not yet taken steps to help secure Saeed’s conviction.
To a question, she said the US had reason to believe that Hafiz Saeed was one of the ‘principal architects’ of the Mumbai attacks. “We have issued this reward. We had earlier been successful. This is not unique. This is not a special case,” she said.
Incensed by Secretary Clinton’s comments, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said that Pakistan’s determination to fight militancy ‘cannot be doubted’. “We have made numerous sacrifices that are unparalleled,” Moazzam Ali Khan said.
Secretary Clinton also said that her country looked to India as a partner in the wide international effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and also to see progress by India in reducing Iranian oil imports.
“There are ties of culture and religion. We have a strong intent for the peaceful and negotiated settlement of issues. Our stand on this has been clear and consistent,” Krishna said.
(Additional input from AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2012.