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Updated: October 20, 2009 01:58 IST

Pak must end distinction between good and bad terrorists: Tharoor

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Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.
The Hindu Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor.

Underlining that New Delhi has not seen any change in Pakistan's attitude towards terrorists working against India, a top Indian minister has said Islamabad must end the distinction between "good and bad terrorists".

"One of the concerns we've had in recent years is that there appears to have been a tendency in some parts of the Pakistani establishment to think there are good terrorists and bad terrorists," said Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of State for External Affairs.

"The good terrorists are the guys who go off and bomb Indians, and kill Indians in India. And the bad terrorists are the ones who attack Pakistani interests, whether in Afghanistan or inside Pakistan," Mr. Tharoor told the CNN in an interview.

The Congress Party MP from Thiruvananthapuram said "in other words, you blow up the Taj Mahal Hotel, you're a good guy. You blow up the Marriott in Islamabad, you're a bad guy".

"Now, that sort of distinction -- which I'm not saying is held at the highest levels of government, but certainly has been held in some elements on that side of the border – that distinction must disappear," asserted Mr. Tharoor, the first-time MP from Kerala.

When asked about the recent military action by Pakistan Army against the Taliban and terrorists, Mr. Tharoor said: "If what we are seeing now with the assault on Pakistanimilitary headquarters clinches the argument once and for all, and then it will be a case, we believe, of Dr. Frankenstein really deciding he has to execute his own monster".

The Indian minister reiterated that India has not seen much change in "Pak’s attitude when it comes to taking action against terrorists who have been responsible for terrorist attacks against India".

"There is difference between what they say and what they actually do", he charged.

The Minister of State for External Affairs said India asked for credible action to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage to justice and credible action to dismantle the infrastructure of terror from which attacks had repeatedly been launched in India over the last couple of decades.

"Now, frankly, we haven't seen enough action on either," Mr. Tharoor told the American news channel.

"On the perpetrators of 26 /11, there are seven people behind bars. It's said they'll be brought to trial. That's fine, but it's not enough," he underlined.

According to the minister, there are others, including "the masterminds", such as the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, "who is not only running around free to incite hatred and preach mayhem and murder in my country, but has just been released by a Pakistani court after a feeble attempt to prosecute him".

"Now, this sort of thing does worry us. We want to see some really clear and firm action," the former UN diplomat said.

Responding to a question from the India-born host Fareed Zakaria, Mr. Tharoor said there were too many examples in the recent past of the right rhetoric -- "even the freezing of bank accounts, which they now immediately open up under other names, the banning of organizations which are promptly reinvented under other labels".

"That sort of -- we've seen that movie before," he said.

"What we want now is something new, something clear -- something that shows within Pakistan that it's a clean break from the condoning, at the very least, if not the actual leading, of terrorist actions against India," he said.

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