Lashkar as dangerous as Taliban: Holbrooke

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 24 2010, 03:29am hrs
Equating the Lashkar-e-Toiba with outfits like the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, on Thursday said there was growing cooperation between terror networks in the region and the increasing role of Lashkar had been raised with the Pakistani military. He said the US had raised concerns about links between the ISI and terror groups in the region. Calling the Lashkar as dangerous as the Taliban and the Haqqani network, Holbrooke said that tacking the outfit was top priority and the US, on several occasions, had raised the matter with the Pakistani military.

When we talk about major terrorist groups, we consider it as dangerous as other groups... We understand, as a government, that it (Lashkar) is a threat and we talk about it all the time with the Pakistani military to deny their territory to this organisation, Holbrooke, here to meet the Indian leadership, told reporters.

Identifying Lashkar as part of a ring of terror groups that include the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, Holbrooke said the name Taliban had become a brand and all these groups were growing closer to each other as they were beginning to feel the pressure. Their long-term motive is the same... it is to destroy western civilisation, create maximum number of problems between India and Pakistan... create crises between Delhi and Islamabad, he said.

Emphasising the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice, Holbrooke said that while Pakistan had taken steps, it was not enough and the US was talking to Islamabad frankly on the issue.

He also allayed concerns about growing US ties with Pakistan. Improved relations with Pakistan are not bad for India and improved US relations with India are not bad for Pakistan. The truth is that US has closer relations with Pakistan and closer relations with India than your two countries have with each other. We firmly believe that this is in the interest of both countries.