Obama grills Sharif over Mumbai attack trial, LeT; suggests Pak export

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Vishwarupa, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 15, 2009
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    WASHINGTON: Any residual doubt that Pakistan is a duplicitous terrorist state was set to rest by the time Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met US President Obama in the White House on Wednesday with leaked US intelligence reports that showed Islamabad acquiesced to Predator strikes on some terrorists targets even as the country's intelligence agencies shielded and helped others. The US president also implicitly accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism.

    The disclosures relating to drone strikes from 2007 to 2011, when Gen Pervez Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari were in power, did not stop Sharif from predetermined talking points during his two-hour meeting with the US president that included pleading for a stop to the attacks. "Pakistan and the United States have a strong ongoing counterterrorism cooperation. We have agreed to further strengthen this cooperation. I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes,' Sharif said with a straight face, with US president next to him.

    Obama, who had already spoken by then, ignored the drone issue altogether, but praised Sharif for his commitment in trying to reduce "incidents of terrorism inside of Pakistan's borders, and the degree to which these activities may be exported to other countries." Implicit in the remark was that Pakistan is a terrorism-exporting country, and the drone strikes were a legitimate US response in areas where Islamabad has no control and has ceded sovereignty.

    The fact that Obama grilled Sharif over Islamabad's dodgy approach to terrorism, particularly in reference to India, was confirmed by the Pakistani prime minister himself. "He (Obama) asked, why the trial of the (Mumbai) terrorist attack in India has not started yet," Sharif told reporters soon after the meeting, adding, "He (Obama) has raised the issue of (Dr Shakil) Afridi. He spoke about cross-border movement. He also talked about Jamaat-ud-Dawa."

    In public though, the US president was careful not to embarrass his guest too much. "We talked about security and the concerns that both of us have about senseless violence, terrorism and extremism. And we agreed that we need to continue to find constructive ways to partner together -- ways that respect Pakistan's sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries," Obama said in a nuanced explanation that provided the sub-text to the drones strike imbroglio.

    The Obama administration was evidently compelled to leak intelligence reports of the back channel agreement on drone strikes with Pakistan after Sharif upped the ante ahead of his meeting with the US president in an address to the US Institute of Peace on Tuesday, saying the attacks infringed on Pakistani sovereignty, it is an irritant in bilateral ties, and he would raise it with Obama. US officials had tried to walk Sharif away from the subject by suggesting that such strikes were inevitable when Islamabad ceded sovereignty to terrorists and was even complicit in their activity, but faced with Sharif's intransigence, partly driven by domestic considerations, the administration leaked a trove of documents to the Washington Post that exposed Pakistan as a dishonest, two-faced country that helped terrorists it considered state assets.

    The documents, the Post said, show that not only did US officials share information with Pakistan on drone strikes, but the two sides also clashed on occasions over Pakistani military-intelligence agencies being in cahoots with terrorists. These included time-stamped videos of terrorists dispersing material and themselves soon after being tipped off by an intelligence courier that a drone attack, about which US shared information with Pakistan, was imminent.

    In one case, the report says, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton cited "cell phones and written material from dead bodies that point all fingers" at a militant group based in Pakistan. "The US had intelligence proving ISI was involved with these groups," she is cited as saying. In another case, CIA deputy director Mike Morell is said to indicate that the CIA was prepared to share credit with Pakistanis for a drone strike if the agency could confirm that it had killed Ilyas Kashmiri, an al-Qaida operative suspected of ties to plots against India. The agency would do so "so that the negative views about Pakistan in the US decision and opinion making circles are mitigated."

    Overall, the disclosures suggest that the United States is cognizant of Pakistan's sponsorship of terrorism, but instead of punishing the country, it will selectively leak information to walk it back from its self-destructive path. US President Obama's explicit reference to Pakistan exporting terrorism is the closest the US has come to publicly outing it as a terrorist entity.

    But there is no indication though that Pakistan, dubbed Denialistan in some quarters, recognizes the gravity of the charges. In his USIP address, Sharif went so far as to assert that "Pakistan is neither source of nor epicenter of terrorism," even though his own political party, the Pakistan Muslim League, has well-chronicled links with terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The government in Punjab led by his brother is reported to make budgetary allocations to the internationally banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba aka Jamaat ul-Dawa, even as Washington appropriates US tax-payer dollars as aid to Pakistan.

    None of these complications or contradictions is reflected in the 2500-word joint statement issued at the conclusion of the Obama-Sharif meeting. The statement, along with an elaborate fact-sheet, manages the optics of the visit and suggests that all is -- or will be -- hunky-dory between the two sides as the U.S tries to manage the relationship ahead of its 2014 drawdown from Afghanistan.

    Obama grills Sharif over Mumbai attack trial, LeT; suggests Pak exports terror - The Times of India

    If obama had grilled pakistan for sponsoring terrorism why ---- is he giving $1.68 billion as aid. Fake news by TOI(let) paper
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
    debasree and Free Karma like this.

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