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Pranab raises Pak heat

Washington, June 28: Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee has told the Americans that proof of Pakistan’s commitment to end cross-border terrorism would be to launch joint operations along its border with India to hunt for terrorists.

At meetings with Vice-President Dick Cheney, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley, Mukherjee said General Pervez Musharraf is yet to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism.

Mukherjee’s initiative to put incremental pressure on Musharraf on cross-border terrorism comes only days after national security adviser M.K. Narayanan detailed at his meetings here proof of Pakistan’s continuing efforts to destabilise Jammu and Kashmir and spread terror to other parts of India.

According to sources present at Mukherjee’s meetings, the Americans were taken by surprise by the comparison between the joint efforts by the US and Pakistan to hunt for al Qaida and the Taliban in areas near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the complete absence of any such attempt on Pakistan’s eastern border.

His remarks represented a throwback to New Delhi’s long-standing complaint that Washington had double standards on terrorism and that there were bad terrorists who threatened America and others it couldn’t care less about.

Sources said Rice responded to Mukherjee’s remarks by saying that Musharraf had done a lot to lower the temperature in Jammu and Kashmir and that the Americans viewed him as committed to the global fight against terrorism.

Mukherjee conceded that infiltration along the Line of Control had come down, but he attributed the decline to “vigilance and surveillance” by Indian security forces.

He said the snow had not melted yet this year on the routes used by infiltrators and “we will have to see” after the routes are open in a few weeks.

Mukherjee’s proposal puts the onus on the Americans to do more to get Musharraf to tighten the screws further on anti-India terrorists within Pakistan.

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