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India's restraint post 26/11 overwhelming: Chertoff

December 08, 2009 00:15 IST

It might be a "frustration" for India to restrict itself from any military action against nuclear power Pakistan after the Mumbai terror attacks, but taking such a calculated response was "overwhelming", feels former US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff, speaking at launch of a new think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, advocated United States' policy of hot pursuit of terrorists in safe havens like Afghanistan and Pakistan border areas but said it was in India's interest to keep heads cool.

"The subcontinent being a nuclear zone, results of a conflict could be devastating. Terrorists would love to trigger nuclear response. The Mumbai attacks may have been designed to provoke that kind of response," he said.

Chertoff said in such situations "cool heads are desirable" and lauded "calculated response of Indian government".

The former secretary who initiated a series of measures during his tenure between 2005 and 2009 to tighten security and ensure a proactive response to any possible terror attack in the United States post 9/11 said, "I understand frustration but when you have nuclear power in the region such a response in overwhelming."

Chertoff said the nations allowing their lands to be used as safe havens for terrorist end up being the victim of the very problem. He said terrorism is not limited to national boundaries as was evident in the Mumbai terror attacks in which finance was arranged from outside which came to light after the arrests in Italy and in the ongoing probe of Headley in the US.

Chertoff said although there were some positive developments in Pakistan, but a lot needs to be done.

The former secretary said terrorists do not lose their focus and can get agitated by incidents that took place 500-600 years back, "so a persistent approach is the key in tackling them".

He advocated implementation of the Patriot Act in the US which is slammed by civil society activists as against the basic principles of human rights.

Most of the people opposing the Act have not read it, he added.

The Act, drafted when President George Bush' was in power, increases the ability of law enforcement and eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States. Concluding the session, former director of Intelligence Bureau Ajit Doval said one should not be confused with banners of terrorists as long as they share "common ideologies, common ideas and common targets".
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