Meena Menon

A lot more to be done before eliminating terror groups

MUMBAI: United States Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Affairs Richard Boucher said on Friday that Pakistan had made a promising start and there was a lot more to be done before the terror groups were eliminated.

At a press interaction here on Friday, Mr. Boucher said everyone knew that the latest terror attack had its origin in Pakistan soil. "We can't have some groups which are okay and some which are not okay. We have to get rid of all of them," he said.

To a question on the only surviving terrorist Ajmal Amir's nationality, he said he did not know if there was a difference of opinion on this issue.

Mr. Boucher was in Mumbai to meet the business community and others.

He assured people that the U.S. was keen on getting to the bottom of these attacks and to make sure the groups that were operating from Pakistan were shut down and put out of business.

The best way forward was to pursue a cooperative approach and while investigating, not just accept the information but develop it, he pointed out.

Responding to questions on the denials being issued by Pakistan, Mr. Boucher said Pakistan had detained Lashkar-e-Taiba people and closed down Jamaat-ud-Dawa offices.

On the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he said since it was primarily an Indian investigation, the U.S. agency was only playing a supporting role.

"We are making sure we are contributing to the investigation." He said Pakistan was collating material. It would be premature to say that there were conclusive findings.

No country was safe as long as the terror groups were active, he said. "We have to think of what is the most effective way of cooperation in bringing the source of this attack and its perpetrators to book."

He called for the cooperation of all the governments in the region to deal with terror. He said the U.S. was working with India and apart from rescheduling the visit of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, it was working to prevent such attacks with Indian agencies.

He said he did not think the fact that Pakistan was a nuclear State was the important factor in this discourse but it was important to eliminate the danger of terror from Pakistan.

The U.S. had a growing effort with India on terrorism and there was a counter terror working group -- this kind of cooperation was established after the November 26 attacks in which Americans were among those killed. This had given a signal for rapid acceleration of cooperation in this area, he said.

On India's response or lack of it, he said India had developed the investigation and there was the expectation that the terror groups must be closed down. These were responses with which the U.S. would cooperate.

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