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Placing LeT on terrorist list was a challenge for Bush administration
New Delhi, Nov 27 - According to one well-placed advisor to the Bush administration, even placing LeT on the foreign terrorist organisation list was a challenge because the administration was concerned about the reaction of the Pakistani army, as per a report by Rand Corporation in 2009 after the Mumbai blasts of 26/11.
The report noted that the Mumbai attack attests to ongoing shortcomings -- if not outright failure -- in the United States' efforts to manage its various security interests in Pakistan and the region.
As is well known, in the early phase of the war on terror, the US tended to focus its efforts on securing Pakistan's cooperation in pursuing Al-Qaeda. In part because the US believed the Taliban had been defeated, it did not pressure Pakistan to cooperate against the Taliban until 2007, although interest in doing so percolated across the US government in 2006.
This renewed interest was due in large measure to the Taliban resurgence in 2005, which to a large extent was facilitated by the sanctuary that the Taliban and other extremists enjoyed in Pakistan.
"Washington applied only episodic pressure on Pakistan to eliminate the groups operating in Kashmir, of which LeT was one. According to one well-placed advisor to the Bush administration, even placing LeT on the foreign terrorist organization list was a challenge because the administration was concerned about the reaction of the Pakistani army," the report said.
In an effort to secure Pakistan's cooperation in the global war on terrorism, the US focused its energies and its resources on the Pakistan military. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2008, the US spent more than $11.2 billion presumably to further these goals.
In return, the US secured access to Pakistani soil for logistical supply as well as access to naval and air bases for the conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom. Pakistan also deployed significant numbers of military and paramilitary troops along the border with Afghanistan, where it has engaged in operations with varying success against selected militants considered to be a threat to the state, the report noted.
"In the main, US policies have not secured a comprehensive commitment from Pakistan to eliminate militants based in Pakistan. Taliban leaders and warlords -- Jallaluddin Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Baitullah Meshud, among others -- remain free to operate from Pakistani soil with impunity, and many believe that the Pakistani military and the ISI actively support them," the report had noted.
Equally alarming, LeT has been targeting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces at least since 2007. This is in addition to the ongoing operations against India by a number of groups based in Pakistan, the report had noted.
"With the Mumbai attack, LeT demonstrated that it has the ability and the will to internationalize its targets. LeT now has now assumed a larger role in the larger jihadi landscape. Like some of the other militant groups in Pakistan, LeT is believed to have considerable reach into Pakistani diaspora populations, raising a number of concerns for countries with Pakistani expatriate communities," the report had noted.
"For the policy-relevant future, Pakistan will remain a destination where individuals radicalised abroad can go to obtain training from militant groups. Thus, containing the threat posed by militants in Pakistan is an international challenge with few mechanisms to support it," the report said in its references to Pakistan.
(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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