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'LeT a ticking time bomb in South Asia'

July 03, 2010 15:27 IST

Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Tayiba is a ticking time bomb in South Asia and the US administration should focus on the extremist group.

Charging that Islamabad has not taken any concrete action against the group, Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), said US President Barack Obama should focus on LeT and other extremist organisation which are of enormous concern.

"We haven't seen concrete, firm action by the Pakistanis. That's an area which some people say is a ticking time bomb in South Asia," Markey said.

The LeT needs to be paid more attention than the Pakistani Taliban, who he said are more of a local, inwardly directed group despite the fact that Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad claims to have been affiliated with it.

"We shouldn't lose sight of Lashkar-e-Tayiba and its links to all of these other groups. One other thing I'd say, as the Pakistanis look to give us what they would suggest are easy and honourable ways out of Afghanistan, is that we shouldn't see these as actually quite so easy," he said.

"None of these groups that the Pakistanis are talking about making a deal with are the kinds of groups that we could easily find our interests protected by," Markey said.

"The Haqqanis are the first example. Our primary concern is to avoid seeing another safe haven in Afghanistan, one that would serve as a base for Al Qaeda operations and similar types of groups. The Haqqanis have very clearly demonstrated that they are willing to facilitate that. The idea that we would make a deal with them that would serve our basic interests, I find highly questionable," he said.

Markey's comment comes within days of Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarks that LeT now has a global ambition.

"Generally, LeT was east, focused on India. They're now in the west. Actually, they're not just in the west, focused on Pakistan. There are LeT elements focused on Afghanistan," he said in an interactive interview with David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times, at the Aspen Security Form on Tuesday.

An expert on South Asia, Markey said Pakistan would like an Afghan government that's sympathetic to Pakistan and committed to not allowing much Indian influence in Afghanistan.

He said that President Barack Obama's stated July 2011 starting point for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan has posed problems for US policies in the region.

'That date remained fixed in peoples' minds,' says Markey.

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