Acknowledging that LeT and like-minded groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa were involved in terrorism, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said these outfits needed to be reined in, but in a gradual manner.
The Pakistan government and the country's intelligence agencies should be given time to move against these groups so as "not to rock the boat" as he claimed these groups enjoyed popular support in his country for their anti-India activities.
"You can't rock the boat so much that the boat capsizes. So therefore, while these things have to be done, allow piecemeal, gradual action through a well thought-out strategy which does not disturb the entire law-and-order situation in Pakistan," the former Pakistan military dictator said, as he warned that taking any strong action against terrorist outfits like LeT and JuD, would create a massive law and order problem in Pakistan.
The United States and India are putting pressure on Pakistan to rein in groups like LeT which is blamed for masterminding and carrying out the bloody siege in Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were massacred.
Musharraf acknowledged that LeT and JuD were involved in "terrorism" in Pakistan, but said they had been popular for undertaking humanitarian relief during the earthquake in Kashmir and recent floods in the country.
"So you're dealing with groups which are popular among the people. When they were fighting in Kashmir, it's very popular with the people of Pakistan. They are mujahedin, they are fighting Indian army," Musharraf said.
"So it's a difficult situation for any government in Pakistan. So the root is to resolve the Kashmir dispute," he said.
Musharraf criticised US President Barack Obama for not raising the Kashmir issue during his recent visit to India and for not stopping in Pakistan, the frontline US ally in the war in Afghanistan.
The former Pakistan President, who stepped down in 2008 and is attempting a political comeback in his country, was delivering a lecture on US-Pak relations at the Atlantic Council, a Washington based think-tank.
He argued that in the 90s there was such a public sympathy in Pakistan for these anti-India groups that no government really did anything about it.
Speaking at a separate function, Musharraf said he was determined to make peace with India. "I may be a man of war, but I'm a man of peace because I know the ravages of war."
Confirming his earlier assertions, he said India and Pakistan had come close to an agreement on territorial disputes in Sir Creek and Siachen. "The agreement was ready to be signed."
He claimed he invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan to sign these pacts but the momentum faded as Singh did not come and Pakistan entered a crisis, leading to his downfall.