‘With the right amount of pressure, Pakistan can act against terrorists operating in its borders’

Telling countries, such as Pakistan, that practise “embedded terrorism” to “clean up their act” will have to be a nuanced and long-term issue, according to the former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

She was delivering the keynote address on the second day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here on Saturday.

The U.S. policy towards state sponsors of terrorism or “states within states” had been to say “you don’t have an option,” Ms. Rice said, drawing on her experience at persuasion during the Mumbai terror attacks to illustrate her point about being firm and realistic. “I came here after the Mumbai attacks and told [the then] Pakistan President, Asif Ali Zardari, that what has happened is clearly unacceptable and Pakistan is responsible.” But this did not work quickly. “This is a long-term problem and can’t be turned around quickly but over decades.”

Such an approach could help because Pakistan turned a blind eye to groups practising terrorism within its borders, but with the right amount of pressure, it could mobilise the system to act against terrorists, she said

She said stable relations between India and Pakistan and evolution of Afghanistan into a peaceful, multi-ethnic state were the key to regional stability. “Imagine a region in which Pakistan and India, Afghanistan and Central Asia are together, in a region that is dynamic in terms of stability and security. That cannot happen without India and the United States. When two countries share values, there is no limit to cooperation,” said Ms. Rice, who also served as the National Security Adviser in the Bush Administration.

Ms. Rice, one of the pillars of the India-U.S. nuclear deal, revealed the then President George Bush’s fascination for India’s democracy and its entrepreneurs and software professionals working in the U.S. This led to initiatives on the civil nuclear front, the absence of which Washington saw as a barrier to a closer relationship with India.

“He [Mr. Bush] couldn’t understand why the relationship hadn’t gone further than it had. So he made it an article of faith to take the relationship with India to the extent we can. The U.S. Administration identified the absence of a civil nuclear agreement as a barrier to technological collaboration. People don’t realise it was not just civil nuclear but technology. Early on in our administration, we began working on a road map on technological collaboration. That eventually gave way to a civil nuclear agreement,” she said.

With the Obama administration in its second term, the technological relationship was moving forward even if the nuclear side was moving “somewhat slowly.”

Defending the U.S. war on Iraq, Ms. Rice admitted to some wrong decisions during the post-conflict rebuilding process. “Imagine Middle East with Saddam Hussein trying to chase nuclear weapons along with Iran. The problem was we made a mistake of not sharing [the responsibility] with others.”

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