Terrorism boomeranged on Pakistan, says US official

Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan to shun terrorism to make peace with India, a top US defence official suggested that over time Islamabad "flirted" with terrorism as state policy and now it has boomeranged on it. He said the threat to Pakistan was not from India but from the terrorism that it promoted and fostered.

"I was clear in Pakistan that the principal threat to Pakistan is terrorism, not its neighbours," Deputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who visited India, Pakistan and Afghanistan recently, said Monday at a Washington think-tank.

"The government of Pakistan has flirted over time with using terrorism as an instrument of state policy, and it's coming to the realisation that terrorism's a boomerang and it comes back on you when you try to use it for your own purposes," he said.

"I was honest with my hosts in Islamabad in terms of how Pakistan must achieve peaceful relations with India on the east in order to reap the benefits of cross-border trade, if it's truly to develop its economy," he said at the Centre for American Progress.

"And it needs a secure and stable Afghanistan on the west for the same reason," Carter said.

The official said he "was equally frank with my interlocutors in Delhi that the US supports Pakistani efforts to improve their bilateral relations and hope Delhi will reciprocate".

Carter said he had also told the Indians of US government's appreciation for their support to Afghanistan "in the realms of humanitarian and development aid and their efforts to train the Afghan security forces in India".

Meanwhile, asked to comment Sunday's meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, the State Department said the US welcomed "any and all high-level discussions between Pakistan and India".

"That would improve their bilateral relationship," said spokesperson Jen Psaki who noted President Barack Obama had last week said the US shares "an interest with both countries in seeing a peaceful reduction of tensions on the subcontinent".

"And we continue to support, strongly, efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and we encourage further dialogue," she said.

In response to another question, Psaki said the US position on Kashmir has not changed. "We still believe the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan's dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, and we continue to encourage dialogue."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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