Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mumbai attackers were ‘non-state actors’: Ambassador Haqqani

By Khalid Hasan | Daily Times, December 1, 2008

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador Husain Haqqani told ABC in an interview on Sunday that those who staged the Mumbai attacks were ‘non-state actors’ and this is no time for India and Pakistan to blame each other but to work together to fight terroism.

In answer to a question, Haqqani said if India moves its forces to the border with Pakistan, it will leave his country no option but to take steps to defend itself. Troops will have to be pulled back from the border with Afghanistan “and nobody wants that”. He said the democratic government in Pakistan led by President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani had “gone the extra mile” in reassuring the Indians that both countries being victims of terrorism, this was the time to forget past history and get together. In answer to another question about the initial Pakistani offer of dispatching the ISI chief to India, the ambassador said that the ‘rhetoric’ right now is such that it would not be the right time for a high-level meeting of that sort, but Pakistan has offered high-level intelligence cooperation to India. He added, “We will cooperate with the Indians in every detail if there is evidence that there is any link to anybody.” He said everyone in the world had come round to the view that the government and state of Pakistan and the military and intelligence services of Pakistan “are not directly involved” and that is the good news. If there are individuals, then there are individuals in the United States too, but that does not mean the United States is at fault. Haqqani said his government has gone the extra mile to reassure the Indian government that “we feel their pain”. He said there was ‘intelligence failure’ and “I think people have to look closer to home for that”.

Haqqani said the Mumbai attacks must not be viewed through the prism of past bitter Islamabad-New Delhi relations. “As two democracies we need to strengthen each other rather than fall into the trap of the terrorists who want us to fight with each other so that they can get greater strength,” he added.

Giving background, he said, “Pakistan and Afghanistan became the focus of jihad central many many years ago when they were all fighting the Soviets. So these people have roots in some remote parts of our country. They have spread those roots. Some of the efforts in the war on terror have not been successful. Our dictator, General Musharraf did not do the right thing to eliminating the terrorists but the new government is making its effort and our intelligence services are far better prepared. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. India is a victim of terrorism. The victims need to get together. Forget about our bitter history,” he said.
Asked whether a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s team would be welcome to broker a compromise on the disputed area of Kashmir, Haqqani said Sen Hillary Clinton, Obama’s likely pick for Secretary of State, or anyone else would be welcome. “I think it’s about time that people put those arguments behind us and if anyone can help us do that that would definitely be a good thing,” he added.

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