December 8, 2008 — December 8, 2008--The United States is dusting off a long-discarded proposal to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. But with the Bush administration in its final six weeks in office, a decision in this regard will be left to the incoming Obama government, sources said. The final decision will be contingent on corrective action by Islamabad in the meantime, to the satisfaction of India, the US and other affected countries.
US intelligence circles are re-evaluating Pakistan's contribution to the war on terror, the ISI's dominant role in the country and its ties with jihadis. The White House lost faith in the Pakistan Army's bonafides several months ago, which led to withdrawal of support to military ruler Pervez Musharraf, officials and congressional aides familiar with the issue explained.
Pakistan came close to being named a state sponsor of terrorism in 1992 when then Secretary of State James Baker charged prime minister Nawaz Sharif with supporting terrorism in J & K. Nicholas Platt, who was the US envoy in Islamabad told Sharif we (US) are very confident of our information that your intelligence service... and elements of the Army are supporting Kashmiri and Sikh militants who carry out acts of terrorism...
Platt said Our information is certain. It does not come from the Indian Government. Please consider the serious consequences to our relationship if this support continues... If the situation persists, the Secretary of State may find himself required by law to place Pakistan in the USG [United States Government] State sponsors of terrorism list... You must take concrete steps to curtail assistance to militants and not allow their training camps to operate in Pakistan or Azad Kashmir.''
The situation was defused by the Sharif government removing then D-G of ISI, Javed Nasir even as Washington was going through a transition phase (from Bush Sr to Clinton). But it now appears that the ISI cranked up its policy from mere infiltration and support to outright commando style attacks.
While the Bush administration has stepped up pressure on Pakistan, firm action against them is constrained by both the transition phase in Washington and the US dependence on Pakistan to maintain supply lines to its troops in land-locked Afghanistan. Officials are now re-examining options in this regard, particularly US leverage against Islamabad if Pakistan considers interdiction strategies.
Despite a soft-line adopted by Bush administration in public to the benefit of doubt to Pakistan's civilian government and spur it into action, Washington has little doubt that the terrorist attack on Mumbai was sponsored and planned with state support, U.S officials are saying privately. One things is certain; this was not a runof-the mill LeT operation.
I think this event looks a lot more like a classical Special Forces or commando-style raid than it does like any terrorist attack we've seen before,'' David Kilcullen, a counter insurgency military analyst who served as an advisor to Gen Davis Petraeus tells Fareed Zakaria in the upcoming edition of his program GPS, articulating what U.S officials are saying in private. No al Qaida-linked terrorist group and certainly never Lashkar-e-Taiba has mounted a maritime raid of this type or complexity.''
The US intelligence community believes that hijacking a fishing vessel, infiltrating via the sea, via inflatable boat, launching diversionary attacks designed to pull the first responders out of the way of the subsequent follow on groups that struck the Oberoi the Taj Majal, the Nariman Center and the equipment the terrorists carried and their attire were all in the vein of a covert special-forces raid rather than a traditional terrorist attack.
But the most damning, and most recent, piece of evidence came after the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul when US intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack.
The messages, US officials said later, indicated that the ISI officers involved in the bombings were not renegades, or stateless actors, and their actions might have been authorized by superiors.
Washington now believes that is also the case with Mumbai, which is why, notwithstanding a soft public stance, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has conveyed to President Zardari what her predecessor Baker told Nawaz Sharif Pakistan is on track to being declared a state sponsor of terrorism if it does not act.