US experts for more counter-terror ties with India, checking LeT

Washington, June 13 (IANS) Leading US experts on South Asia have sought more counter-terrorism cooperation with India and said Islamabad should be warned to keep Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba in check to prevent a Mumbai-style attack on the US.

One of Pakistan's oldest and most powerful militant groups, "LeT is clearly capable of posing a threat to the United States," Stephen Tankel, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment in the South Asia Programme told a House panel Wednesday.

"The United States must remain attentive to the evolving threat and vigilant in taking steps to degrade the group," he said during a hearing on protecting the homeland against Mumbai-style attacks and the threat from LeT.

Tankel suggested that the US should deepen counterterrorism cooperation with India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom to disrupt LeT's overseas financing and recruitment.

He also suggested that the US should signal to Pakistan's military and intelligence services the severe repercussions that would result if LeT, or elements within it, mounted an attack on American soil.

Describing LeT as a terrorist network supported and nurtured by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, the panel's Republican chairman Peter King said Pakistan will bear responsibility for any LeT attack on the US.

Jonah Blank, senior political analyst at policy think tank the RAND Corporation, said on the issue of LeT, US "could try to work with the government of Pakistan to construct a glide-path to decommission the organization."

"This would have to be done with the full cooperation of the Pakistani military, because any attempt to do so without the partnership of Pakistan's army and ISI has no realistic chance of success," he said.

C. Christine Fair, assistant professor Georgetown University, said most persons recognize that working with Pakistan is necessary due to its importance in wrapping up military operations in Afghanistan.

But she hoped that after 2014 the US "will look very closely at Pakistan and evaluate that state's contribution to the degradation of US security interests in South Asia and beyond."

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