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'ISI continues to maintain links with LeT'

world Updated: Jun 07, 2009 12:27 IST
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Observing that the ISI continues to maintain links with terror outfits like the LeT and JuD, a former top CIA official says the US needs to be tough with the Pakistani establishment and send a clear message to it that it cannot pursue a policy of "selective counter-terrorism."

Pointing out that the ISI today is in a "mortal battle" with the Pakistani Taliban in the restive Swat valley, Bruce Riedel, who co-chaired the inter-agency committee of the Obama Administration which formulated the Af-Pak policy, said Islamabad has been pursuing "selective counter-terrorism" measures.

"In the Swat Valley, the Pakistani army and the ISI are fighting a very serious struggle against a part of the jihadist infrastructure. ISI has also been helpful in fighting part of the Al-Qaeda infrastructure.

"But the complexity, the problem is that ISI continues to have relations with groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, with whatever its new name is and with the Afghan Taliban. It is a very complex picture. It's selective counter-terrorism. What we need is uniform counter-terrorism," Riedel told PTI here.

On the release of JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed from the house arrest in Pakistan, he said the Obama administration should take "a very hard line" about the release of the mastermind of the Mumbai massacre."

The US needs to be "very clear with Pakistan that it cannot pursue a policy of selective counter-terrorism," Riedel said.

"Selective counter-terrorism is weak counter-terrorism."

When asked whether Pakistan was taking enough steps to dismantle terrorist networks which are focussed on India, the former CIA official replied: "Not at all."

"I think, Pakistan has taken a few steps, but they are very small, and much more needs to be done. The entire infrastructure of the jihadist Frankenstein in Pakistan needs to be broken and dismantled, not just because that is in the interest of America and India, but because it is in the interest of Pakistan.

"Because if the jihadist Frankenstein in Pakistan is not dismantled and defeated there is a very real possibility that they would take over the State of Pakistan and that would be the end of Pakistani freedom," Riedel said.