Dec 16, 2008

World - Pakistan;Brown's straight talk

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did well to deny Pakistan the space for equivocation in its response to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Mr. Brown has conveyed the international community’s unambiguous and consensual assessment that the Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the atrocity. Islamabad, which had initially promised prompt and effective cooperation at the time when the images of the carnage in the metropolis were still fresh, slipped into denial mode thereafter. The polite tenor of the Pakistani official requests to India to share the details of the investigation could not camouflage the pointed message underlying these requests that there was insufficient evidence of the culpability of their nationals in the Mumbai attacks. New Delhi has every reason to believe that an old drama was being restaged. Whenever terrorist attacks had occurred in the past, Islamabad would inevitably adopt the ploy of waiting it out until international outrage faded and then quietly drop the offers of assistance it might have made. The suggestion made this time round for a joint investigation was not taken up for much the same reason. From past experience India has learnt the bitter lesson that whatever evidence it may produce is likely to be rejected by Pakistan out of hand. New Delhi’s decision to act in concert with the international community seems to have paid off with Mr. Brown who had been shown the evidence gathered from the captured terrorist and other sources endorsing the view that Pakistan has to act fast.

It is evident that the British Prime Minister believed his country had a stake in the demand that Pakistan should not allow its territory to be used for terrorist operations. Three Britons were among the score and more foreigners killed in the Mumbai terrorist attack. Mr. Brown also bluntly reminded his Pakistani hosts that British authorities had determined that three-fourths of the terror plots it had investigated were linked to Al Qaeda elements in Pakistan. He also made clear that a good part of the £6 million assistance the United Kingdom has offered to Pakistan was to be spent on programmes designed to insulate the youth from the allure of terrorist groups. But the pressure Mr. Brown has sought to put on Pakistan’s leadership to end its dangerous tryst with terrorism might have been more effective had he done some plain speaking about the role of the Pakistan military which continues to prevaricate on the issue of terrorism. The international community must show its solidarity with democratic forces in Pakistan which acknowledge that the past policies that actively sponsored cross-border terrorism have only brought disaster to their own society

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