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There are no 'good terrorists', US tells Pakistan

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: December 03, 2009 17:32 IST
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As part of efforts to convince Pakistan to abandon its policy of using extremist elements as a strategic tool, the US has warned it that there is "no good terrorist" whom it can count on and asked it to take more steps against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

Pakistan's military action against terrorists in the country's restive northwest is an "important first step", but it needs to take "more steps", Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a Congressional hearing convened by the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

"We think that in the last year the Pakistanis have really stepped up their military action against the Pakistani Taliban in both Swat and South Waziristan as an abrupt about- face from their prior policies. And it's been a unifying policy supported by the people of Pakistan," she said. "So they have taken an important first step, but they need to take more steps in their own best interests," she said in response to a question from Republican Edward Royce.

There has to be a recognition in Pakistan of connection between those elements of Taliban who attacked their military and intelligence headquarters, indiscriminately killed and maimed so many hundreds of Pakistanis and all of the other elements of "this syndicate of terrorism," Clinton said.

Later in an interview to CBS Evening News, she said "the case we've been making to both the civilian and the military leadership of Pakistan is a simple one: There is no good terrorist, there is no terrorist that you can count on not to turn against you." Clinton maintained that Pakistani government has taken "some important steps" over the course of this past year that they were not taking before the Obama Administration came to office.

During the Congressional hearing, Clinton told the lawmakers that Pakistan has certainly demonstrated over the last year their commitment and willingness to take on the Pakistan Taliban who directly threaten them. "Obviously, we think Al Qaeda is not only the inspiration but the funder, the equipper, the trainer, the planner. And so our task is to make that case," she argued.

Congressman Royce was of the view that the US has not been able to exert enough pressure on Pakistan. "I don't think to date we've been very effective in bringing the type of pressure to bear on Pakistan. I would suggest that all of us think anew about a strategy that might work," he said. Clinton, however, asserted that the US has degraded the Al Qaeda leadership.

"We have been successful in going after a number of the mainstays of his (Osama bin Laden's) organisation; but we haven't gotten him and we haven't gotten (his deputy Aiman al) Zawahiri and we haven't gotten (Afghan Taliban chief) Mullah Omar," she said. "I think that that has to be a primary goal of what ... we're doing. And it certainly is for me, and I think it is for the President (Barack Obama). And part of the strategy that we're unfolding we think will assist us," she said. "There has been a considerable diminishment of Al Qaeda over the last couple of years in terms of their leadership; obviously, not bin Laden or Zawahiri specifically."

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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