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Finishing Mumbai trial important task for Pakistan: US

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: November 19, 2009 11:54 IST
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Bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice is an important task to finish for Pakistan, which also needs to look into the issue of Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the terror strike, besides preventing cross-border infiltration, the United States has said.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake noted that several accused have been nabbed and court cases begun against them, 'but now it's important to finish the task, to complete those judicial proceedings.'

Blake also said Pakistan should not in any way feel 'threatened' by the strengthening of the Indo-US relationship.

"I think another important issue for Pakistan is to look at is the question of Hafiz Saeed, because Saeed is subject of international sanctions, United Nations sanctions, as well as bilateral American sanctions," Blake told mediapersons.

Blake said while Pakistan has deployed troops away from the Indian border lately, there was still room for progress on this issue, as also in preventing cross border infiltration.

"There's still some in Pakistan who believe that India is their primary threat, and not the extreme militant organisations," Blake said.

On Pakistan's concerns over US' growing coziness with India, Blake said, "I don't think Islamabad should in any way feel threatened by the steps that we're taking with India."

US officials have said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming state visit to the US will help the two countries take their relationship to a new level.

Blake said it is ironic that during Obama administration's early days, Indians said that the US was focusing exclusively on Pakistan and Afghanistan to the exclusion of India.

"There was a good reason for that, and partly because Afghanistan and Pakistan's extremely important, but also because the Indian government had not yet had its elections, so we were not in a position to know who the new government would be, and what the outlines of our new partnership would be," he said.

"Now we are in such a position, and Secretary (of State, Hillary) Clinton, went out in July and conveyed this invitation on behalf of the US President for Manmohan Singh to be the first state visitor of the Obama administration," Blake said in response to a question.

Blake said the US hoped Pakistan would continue its initiatives against the Taliban in its restive regions, to confront violent extremists that threaten not only Pakistan, 'but other countries such as India and the US.'

When asked if he believes India needs to do more to reassure Pakistan about what is happening on the eastern border, Blake said, "That's something for India and Pakistan to work out together, and I don't want to start getting in the middle of telling one country or the other what they should be doing."

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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