Pak needs to change attitude on Lashkar activities, says Western diplomat

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Islamabad, Dec.10 (ANI): A Western diplomat has said "Pakistan needs to make a profound change in its attitude to Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that doesn't seem to have happened yet."

An important sign of whether Pakistan is serious about shutting down the Lashkar would be if the group were demobilized by the government, and its fighters given alternative employment, experts on jihadist groups have added.

According to the New York Times, questions have remained about how far Islamabad would go to rein in groups that have functioned as an alternate arm of Pakistan's military and intelligence services for two decades.

Pakistan may have declared on Tuesday that it had arrested Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, during a raid on Sunday on a camp outside Muzaffarabad, but a senior American official said there was no independent proof of his capture, and it was not clear whether the Lashkar members the Pakistanis said they had rounded up Monday at offices and camps were fighters or senior commanders.

While Bush administration officials have publicly praised the steps taken so far by Islamabad, American counter-terrorism officials in Washington privately struck a skeptical tone, saying that they wanted to see proof that Lakhvi was actually in custody and that the arrests and raids actually represented a firm commitment by the government to crack down on the groups.

"In the past when they've promised to move against these guys, they'd pick up one or two of them and then several months later, they'd release them," said a senior American official who has dealt with Pakistani authorities for several years.

"Based on past patterns, we shouldn't expect much of this," the NYT quoted the official as saying.

Administration officials said they were watching India's reaction to Pakistan's words and deeds to gauge whether the raids and arrests would ease tensions between the countries.

Pakistani officials have indicated in the past few days that there were no plans for a large-scale crackdown on Lashkar-e-Toiba, a group founded in the 1980s by the Pakistani Army to fight a proxy war against India in Kashmir.

Such a crackdown would run counter to popular sentiment and would appear to be at the behest of India and the United States, a politically unpalatable perception for the Pakistan Government. (ANI)

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