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January 13, 2016

Barack Obama warns Pakistan: Shut down terrorist safe havens

 

The US president's remarks, made on the eve of his visit to India, were soon condemned by Pakistan and others as "unfair" 

 President Barack Obama has warned Pakistan it must shut down terrorist safe havens and bring those behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice on the eve of his visit to India.
His comments, made in an interview with the magazine India Today, were condemned in Islamabad as an attempt to curry favour with his hosts which could undermine Pakistan's war against Taliban terrorists in its tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Mr Obama arrives in India on Sunday for his second visit in four years and is hoping to clinch a series of nuclear energy and defence deals to underpin what he hopes will be the "defining partnership" of the 21st century.
He believes the two countries have a natural affinity and wants more trade, greater co-operation against terrorists and pirates and a common approach to climate change.
To underline their common ground on terrorism, he contrasted how the United States had been "unrelenting in our fight against terrorist groups - a fight in which Indians and Americans are united".

"Indians were tragically killed on 9/11, as were Americans on 26/11. On my previous visit to India, my first stop was the memorial at the Taj hotel to pay my respects to the victims, meet with survivors and send a strong message to the Indian people that we stand together in defence of our security and our way of life," he said.
India's neighbour and enemy, Pakistan, was lagging behind, he suggested. "I've made it clear that even as the United States works with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism, safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable and that those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack must face justice," he said.
The United States, along with its partners, had "decimated" the leadership of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said, while the "senseless slaughter" of students and teachers in Peshawar last month was a "painful reminder" of the continuing threat terrorists pose to all.
His comments provoked anger in Pakistan where Mr Obama was accused of undermining its war on Taliban terrorists and undervaluing the lives of thousands of Pakistani soldiers killed in anti-terrorist operations. Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, retired and a leading strategic analyst, said the president's comments had been made to please India on the eve of his visit but would undermine Pakistan just as its army has intensified its operations against Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the country.
More than 30,000 army troops are now involved in the Operation Zarb-e-Azb offensive, which was launched last June following an al-Qaeda attack on Karachi Airport.
It has carried out air strikes and artillery attacks on terrorist bases throughout the tribal areas, killing dozens of commanders and volunteers. The offensive was intensified after the Taliban attack on Peshawar's Army Public School in which more than 150 people, mostly children, were killed.
"We have launched a major military operation in which so many lives have been lost. Just to humour the Indians, he's making this statement and it's unfair to Pakistan. It will cause resentment, especially now when Pakistan is doing so much to clear these havens.
"It doesn't make sense. When Pakistan is doing exactly what the international community is asking from them, for them to say these things to please the Indians or rub it is all the time, it's not good politics. If you want to achieve results, you don't say these things, it puts people off.
"[The Army] is taking huge risks by fighting these militants and militant organisations and now you're not even supporting us internationally, it helps the militants. It will disillusion those trying to support the government," Lt-Gen Masood said."

 telegraph

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