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LeT 'a ticking time bomb' in South Asia

world Updated: Jul 03, 2010 21:02 IST

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Terming the Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, as "a ticking time bomb", a top American expert has asked the Obama administration to focus on the banned Pakistani outfit as Islamabad has failed to take any concrete action against it.

Daniel Markey of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) warned that Islamabad has not taken any concrete action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and as such US President Barack Obama should focus on the terror group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks as well as other extremist organisation which are of enormous concern.

"We haven't seen concrete, firm action by the Pakistanis. That's an area which some people say is a ticking time bomb in South Asia," said Markey, a Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the influential New York-based American think tank.

The LeT needs to be paid more attention than the Pakistani Taliban, who he said are more of a local, inwardly directed group despite the fact that Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad claims to have been affiliated with it. "We shouldn't lose sight of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its links to all of these other groups. One other thing I'd say, as the Pakistanis look to give us what they would suggest are easy and honourable ways out of Afghanistan, is that we shouldn't see these as actually quite so easy," he said.

"None of these groups that the Pakistanis are talking about making a deal with are the kinds of groups that we could easily find our interests protected by," Markey said. He said the Haqqanis are the first example. "Our primary concern is to avoid seeing another safe haven in Afghanistan, one that would serve as a base for al-Qaeda operations and similar types of groups".

According to Markey, the Haqqanis have very clearly demonstrated that they're willing to facilitate that. "The idea that we would make a deal with them that would serve our basic interests, I find highly questionable," he said.

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take action against LeT and its founder Hafiz Saeed, who is considered the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including foreigners. Markey's comment comes within days of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarks that LeT now has a global ambition.

"Generally, LeT was east focused on India. They're now in the west. Actually, they're not just in the west, focused on Pakistan. There are LeT elements focused on Afghanistan," he said in an interactive interview to The New York Times at the Aspen Security Form on Tuesday. Markey said Pakistan would like an Afghan government that's sympathetic to it and committed to not allowing much Indian influence in Afghanistan.