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‘Threat is terror, not India’

world Updated: May 14, 2010 00:58 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

In a week during which the United States has blown hot and cold over Pakistan, American President Barack Obama on Wednesday indicated that his Administration wanted Pakistan to get over its obsession with India and focus more on terrorist groups operating in Pakistan. During a joint media interaction with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai who was in Washington, the US President said: "I think there has been in the past a view on the part of Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only concern. I think what you’ve seen over the last several months is a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst; that the extremist organisations that have been allowed to congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go into Afghanistan, that that now threatens Pakistan’s sovereignty." Even as there appears to be mounting pressure from Washington on the Pakistan government to act quickly against terrorist groups, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban and also to expand its military operations to North Waziristan, Obama seemed to echo the sense in his administration that that process was going to be gradual. He said: "It’s going to take some time for Pakistan, even where there is a will, to find a way in order to effectively deal with these extremists in areas that are fairly loosely governed from Islamabad." The US President’s latest statement comes in a week during which administration officials have made statements meant to put more pressure on Pakistan to act against terrorist groups operating on its soil especially after the abortive car bombing attempt by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad was linked to the Pakistan Taliban, which is based in North Waziristan. Those efforts were helmed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, during a televised interview, warned Pakistan of "severe consequences" if such an attempt originating from its territory were to be successful. Afterwards, however, both State Department spokesman PJ Crowley and AfPak Chief Richard Holbrooke tried to water down the impact of her statement saying it was taken out of context. In a part of the interview to CBS that was not aired, Clinton also highlighted the current concern in the US over how Pakistan’s dual policy towards terrorist groups could impact other countries. She said: "Pakistan has a real problem internally with terrorism and we’ve seen them fight back against it. But they also have a problem that affects the rest of us because all too often that terrorism is being exported."