National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon on Tuesday said the interrogation of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley had revealed a nexus between militants and the official establishment — and it was “getting stronger.” However, he did not name any country.
The Pakistan Foreign Office immediately put out a statement describing the allegation as “baseless.” Its spokesperson Abdul Basit termed Mr. Menon's observation as “yet another manifestation of the Indian establishment's propagandist stance towards Pakistan.”
Speaking at a seminar on counter-terrorism, Mr. Menon further stated that on the basis of Headley's interrogation, the Indian establishment was pessimistic that the nexus could be broken. India was also clearer about the links between terrorists on one side, and intelligence agencies and the establishment on the other.
Pakistan pointed out that such observations were inconsistent with the understanding reached between the Prime Ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Thimphu earlier this year. The leaders had agreed that terrorism was a common threat that needed to be addressed in a cooperative manner, said Mr. Basit.
The link between militants and the establishment was among the three contemporary trends flagged by Mr. Menon. His second point was that “traditional definitions” of terrorist groups in South Asia had become “meaningless” because they are no longer segmented but “increasingly fused” in operations, ideology and communications. The National Security Adviser also raised the issue of nuclear weapons falling in terrorist hands.
Mr. Menon said that because of these trends there was “less possibility to be optimistic — not because the government did not understand the problem or that the strategies were intrinsically flawed. I think we know what needs to be done and who is responsible for terrorism.”
He described the counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the U.S. as “much better” and spoke of “several successes that have helped make both countries safer.”