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‘No decision on Headley access’

world Updated: Apr 03, 2010 00:22 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

While visiting India in March, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake appeared to indicate that Indian interrogators may get direct access to David Coleman Headley, considered to be a major figure behind the Mumbai terror attacks.

On Thursday during a media interaction, Blake did an u-turn on the issue, toeing the line touted by US Ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer.

In response to a question, Blake said, “We are committed to full information sharing with the government (of India) on that. However, no decision has yet been made on the question of whether they will have direct access to David Headley. And, the US Department of Justice is working with the government of India to discuss the modalities for such cooperation.”

This statement was almost a repetition of the statement issued by Roemer in response to Blake’s original remark in New Delhi. Blake also seemed to point to the softer public line that the Obama administration is taking with regard to Pakistan. He said that during his visit to Pakistan in March, he had “urged” Pakistan to act against Punjab-based terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed. He said, “The LeT has growing ambition and scope in its activities as shown by the David Headley case.”

But, even as India has repeatedly expressed its view that Pakistan has taken insufficient action against those behind the Mumbai attacks, like Lashkar chief Hafeez Saeed and the LeT, Blake chose to give the Pakistan army the benefit of the doubt.

Blake appeared to indicate that Pakistan would choose its own priorities even if that did not include action against the LeT.