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A need-to-need basis

Your enemy’s friend is your friend if required. This is smart intelligence, says the US defence secretary. HT writes.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2011 21:30 IST

By accident or devilry, the cat is finally out of the bag. And it has taken no less than Leon Panetta, the defence secretary of the United States, to hammer home the astute observation that elements within the Pakistani government have links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as well as the Haqqani network.

It’s clear that there is a relationship there, Panetta reportedly remarked, while addressing the officers of the National Defence University in Washington.

Hopefully, with a nod and a wink, what with that revelation sounding right in the league of what seasoned agony aunts and neighbourhood gossips might say to each other.

Panetta, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency before taking up his current position, was not one to disappoint and managed to go beyond that cryptic comment.

He revealed that the LeT especially, was a group that went into India and threatened attacks there.

In case you were already feeling overwhelmed with the import and significance of such weighty remarks from the former spy chief (gleaned no doubt from the millions of dollars and man hours spent listening in to mischievous chatter or peering from eyes in the sky), there was more to whet the appetite.

It (the LeT) has conducted attacks in India, he added. Somewhere in the barren badlands of Pakistan, we suspect, LeT operatives themselves were shocked and went into a bit of a sulk, what with their little cat-and-mouse games exposed so ignominiously on the global stage.

Panetta, along with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, did however point out that even after such grave knowledge, there could be forgiveness. For the US, which was fighting the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, needed the support of Pakistan’s government and hence had to maintain a relationship with it.

While you figure out the strategic and intelligence compulsions of being friends with the enemy you are trying to quell, we wait for the next episode of this compelling love-hate saga.