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‘LeT spreading its tentacles west-wards'

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to the United States, is becoming more lethal by the day and spreading its tentacles west-wards. This was disclosed by U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Mike Mullen to a select group of journalists here on Saturday during the course of his 19 {+t} {+h} visit to the country.

“I have watched since 2008 the LeT move to the West, getting more active in the region and engaging more with other terrorist groups. It heightens our concern as it is not only confined to the region but has global inspirations,” Admiral Mullen is said to have told the journalists.

Concerned about the growing LeT network, Admiral Mullen underscored the fact that this was not a new issue; maintaining that he had raised it with the Pakistani leadership in the past.

‘Concerned'

“We all have to be concerned,” he said about the reach of an organisation held responsible by India for the Mumbai terror attacks.

Admiral Mullen rejected the contention that the U. S. was basing its assertions on information provided by India.

“Our information and intelligence does not come from India specifically. We continue to focus heavily on our borders and we will continue to focus on closing safe havens which is a long way from depending on India,” he said.

Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the JCS said Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan but quickly added that the US had not received good intelligence on him for several years now. “One reason is that they hide well, exceptionally well, and they have extraordinary ways of staying alive. It is a complex problem but it is important that Osama is captured or killed.”

As for the U. S. policy on the Haqqani network, Admiral Mullen did not rule out the possibility of Afghan President Hamid Karzai talking to it as part of the reconciliation process but added that the American view was that such negotiations ought to be conducted from a position of strength.

“The U.S. position is that you can only be successful from a position of strength. We are not in a position of strength. The Haqqani network is very strong and involved in insurgency. We need to be stronger to reconcile with them. Karzai leads this and Pakistan too has stakes.”

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