Though worried about another Mumbai-type attack on India, the United States is as yet unwilling to link its aid to Pakistan to a crackdown on Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), held responsible for the 2008 attack.
"I do not want to commit at this time to taking such a path because I think it's important that there be further consideration of all of the implications," secretary of state Hillary Clinton told a House panel on Thursday when asked if US would consider linking action against LeT to US aid to Pakistan.
"Certainly, every time we meet with the Pakistanis, we press them on LeT, about the continuing failure, in our view, to fulfil all of the requirements necessary for prosecution related to the Mumbai attacks. And we will continue to do so," she said in response to the question by Ed Royce, Republican chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism.
"We have had intensive discussions with our Indian counterparts," and on her last trip to India, director National Intelligence James Clapper went with her and "had many in-depth conversations," Clinton told the House foreign affairs committee.
Royce, whose panel had proposed linking US aid to action against LeT, said he was concerned "that some of the ISI, in their assistance to the LeT in orchestrating these attacks, are setting in motion the types of policies that could lead to conflict between India and Pakistan."
"Well, of course, we worry about that very much, and we discuss it in great depth with our Indian counterparts because it is, first and foremost, a concern of theirs," replied Clinton.
"It is, obviously, also concerning to us, but we have designated them. We are, you know, certainly raising their continuing presence and activities on a regular basis."
"But I think that our policy has to be carefully coordinated with the Indian concerns. As you know, India is trying to improve relations with Pakistan right now, and there are actually some very productive discussions going on," she said.
"But perhaps Admiral Mike Mullen's words (suggesting ISI support for terrorist groups) will allow us to have this conversation with Pakistan rather than India," suggested Royce.
Clinton agreed with another lawmaker, Republican Joe Wilson, "that the real game changer in the region is not so much our bilateral relationship as the relationship between Pakistan and India. And the more that there can be progress, the more likely there can be even more progress."
"So we have in Pakistan today a leadership, both civilian and military, that wants to see progress with India and we have the same on the Indian side," she said. "So we encourage it. We try to tell both sides how much it will change their relationship."
Asked by the top Democrat on the panel, Howard Berman, how she had certified that Pakistan was making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups when the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks remains a key player in the affairs of LeT, Clinton said when she made the certification, "I determined that, on balance, Pakistan met the legal threshold."
"Now, one of the challenges is that there are a number of factors here. There was no doubt that Pakistan had entered the fight against terrorists and had made sacrifice for that fight. There was certainly a continuing intelligence cooperation particularly focused on the al Qaeda operatives that was proving to be helpful," she said.