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A partial admission

A partial admission

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 14, 2009.
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/156262/A-partial-admission.html

Pakistan must now walk the talk

The admission by Pakistan that its territory was used for launching the 26/11 fidayeen attack on Mumbai, in which at least 180 people were killed, and that part of the conspiracy was hatched in that country, follows more than two months of strenuous, often comical, denial by Islamabad. It may be recalled that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani not only disputed India's contention that the attackers were Pakistani citizens, but also questioned the quality of evidence collated and provided by New Delhi. Despite Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the terrorist who has been captured alive, insisting that he is a Pakistani citizen, and his parents identifying their son as well as media reports confirming his identity, the Pakistani Government kept on disowning him. The denials were followed by an effort to lay the blame elsewhere - the attacks were planned and launched from Bangladesh; the terrorists were from Austria; and, the most creative of all, the conspiracy was hatched on a ship. On Thursday, the Government of Pakistan, realising the futility of its campaign of calumny, has finally, though partially, admitted to the truth, including Kasab's nationality. It has also claimed to have registered criminal cases against nine suspects on charges of "abetting, conspiracy and facilitation" of a terrorist act. According to Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik, six of the nine suspects are in custody, among them Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. What has not been publicised is that these two men are in the custody of the ISI and it is anybody's guess as to whether the civilian Government and its investigating agency will be allowed access to them. That apart, it remains to be seen what action the Pakistani Government takes to prosecute the suspects and effectively impose the ban on LeT, now known as Markaz-ud-Dawah.

There really are no prizes for guessing what forced Pakistan to stop playing the innocent victim. Islamabad had hoped that the Obama Administration would be sufficiently worried about Pakistan pulling out troops from the Taliban-infested areas along its border with Afghanistan so as not to pursue the 26/11 attack. But contrary to Pakistan's expectations, there have been four developments which have left Islamabad mightily worried. First, the Obama Administration has refused to include the 'Kashmir issue' in Mr Richard Holbrooke's remit - he will deal with curbing terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Second, Russia has agreed - although the formalities of working out the details remain to be completed - to allow access to Afghanistan for American troops and military hardware from its territory, which will obviate the need to route them through Pakistan, thus reducing Washington's dependence on Islamabad for waging what Mr Barack Obama has described as the "right war". Third, Mr Obama has let it be known to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that unless Pakistan cooperates with the US and demonstrates its commitment to the war on terror by cracking down on the 26/11 conspirators, it can forget American largesse. Which brings us to the fourth point: The Obama Administration has followed through on its promise to link future assistance to Pakistan actually taking on the jihadis by holding back $ 55 million. For a country on the verge of bankruptcy, Pakistan has opted for pragmatism over false bravado. It must now walk the talk.


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