Key US lawmakers demand Pak's action against LeT be assessed

Key US lawmakers demand Pak's action against LeT be assessed

Congressman Ed Royce and Brad Sharman said at a Congressional hearing on India that they soon would send a letter to the Obama administration requesting that Pakistani action against LeT -- specifically moving ahead with prosecutions of the Mumbai attackers -- be part of the "secret scorecard" it is keeping with regard to the Pakistani counter-terrorism cooperation.

"In the past decade, US relations with India have grown considerably. But we've hit a lull. Counter-terrorism cooperation is a way to reinvigorate this relationship, and better protect America," said Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

"Our hearing comes soon after our 9/11 memorials, and as India has once again suffered a terrorist attack. Last week, a powerful bomb decimated part of one of New Delhi's high-profile courthouses, killing a dozen and injuring scores. A few months ago, a coordinated triple bombing struck Mumbai during rush hour.Indian authorities are still searching for answers," he said.

"July's coordinated Mumbai attack brought back the horrors of 26/11. Three years ago, a coordinated rampage rocked this great city, killing 166, including six Americans. But unlike in 2008, this time India authorities responded more capably, though there is still frustration in India.  Defending an open country of India's size is no easy task. Mumbai is particularly challenging, with a population of 20 million."

Fortunately, he said, there are good opportunities for the US to increase its counter-terrorism cooperation with India.

"The two countries have worked together on this for over a decade. But by all accounts, this cooperation substantially improved after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, when investigators from both countries stood shoulder-to-shoulder in response," he saidAppearing before the Congressional sub-committee, Lisa Curtis of The Heritage Foundation, said that in the past the US has viewed the LeT only through the Indo–Pak prism -- rather than as part of an international terrorist syndicate.

"Thankfully, opinions within the US Administration on this issue are finally beginning to change. The dangers of LeT and its link to global terrorism have long been evident," she said.

"A hesitant US approach to sharing information on Pakistan-based terrorist groups with India does not serve US interests and cripples the US ability to fully get a handle on terrorist threats emanating from South Asia.

"By choosing to view the activities of al-Qaeda and other Pakistan-based terrorists groups through a separate lens, US officials have failed to hold Pakistan accountable for dealing effectively with terrorists located on its territory," Curtis said.

Frank Cilluffo, Associate Vice President, Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University, said despite some recent promising developments, the US cannot allow its national security to be held hostage by nearly two decades of unfulfilled expectations in Pakistan.

"It is vital that the United States now work to deepen America's cooperative relationships with India's internal security architecture to counter the terror threat that permeates and extends beyond the region," he said.

"While countless terrorist groups target Indian soil, and US interests in Afghanistan and the broader Southeast Asian region, several groups have found refuge in Pakistan as they continue to expand their network and pose a greater danger to the United States and India. Pakistan has significant, historical links to HQN (Haqqani network) and LeT, and both organisations pose serious security implications for US interests," Cilluffo said.

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