Pakistan Faces Criticism at Regional Summit Over Alleged Terrorism RoleBy Steve Herman
03 August 2008
Diplomatic discussions continued Sunday on the sidelines of a South Asian leaders' summit concerning the alleged role of Pakistan's intelligence service in recent bombings in Afghanistan and India. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from the meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, being held in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
While Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai was meeting with Pakistan's prime minister here, a top U.S. diplomat on Sunday called for the new government of Yousuf Raza Gilani to do more to reign in possible rogue elements of Pakistan's intelligence service.
US Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher speaks during a press conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 03 Aug 2008Richard Boucher, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for central and south Asia, says Pakistan's government is facing "enormous problems" in dealing with extremism and other domestic crises. Boucher says Washington has pledged to help Islamabad "in every way," but the Pakistani government needs to assume greater responsibility.
"They have a lot of very big challenges. But one of the things is working with the other institutions, including the army and the intelligence service," said Boucher. "They need to get everybody lined up in the same direction if they are going to tackle the terrorist problem."
India and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of planning the July 7 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul. An estimated 60 people died, including two senior Indian diplomats.
The U.S. government, according to American press reports, intercepted communications that clearly implicated the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan, known as the ISI.
Pakistani government officials deny the charges and say elements of the ISI, sympathetic to the Taliban and other extremists, were previously removed.
Indian officials say Mr. Gilani pledged during a meeting Saturday with India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to independently investigate the allegations.
Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, in a speech to the regional leaders' summit here, said terrorists in South Asia were receiving "institutional nurturing and support" - a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan's intelligence agency.
Mr. Karzai heads to New Delhi later Sunday for talks with India's leadership.
India is also reeling from serial bomb blasts in two cities, which some there blame on extremists from neighboring countries. Further fraying the relationship with Pakistan are alleged Pakistani cease-fire violations along the Line of Control, their de facto Kashmiri border.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since obtaining independence from British colonial rule 60 years ago. Two of those conflicts have been fought over the disputed Kashmir region.