UK joins US pressure chorus

December 25, 2008


LONDON, Dec 24: Right on the heels of a stern alert delivered personally by Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullan, an equally stern advice has gone from Britain on the same day to Islamabad emphasising that after the Mumbai carnage the Indians were losing patience with Pakistan and that the UK was worried that lack of cooperation from the Gilani government could provoke some unwanted developments.

Expressing its appreciation of the difficulties facing Pakistan, Britain, however, is said to have made known its no-confidence in the middle-ranking officials of the ISI as it feared that these officers were not carrying out orders from the political leadership faithfully.

Britain is said to have suggested that if Pakistan started working on the prosecution of the arrested persons (of Jamaatud Dawa), it will make a big difference.

It is also said to have urged that some legal process was needed to be initiated against Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

Diplomatic circles here said Britain had offered help in the investigation into the Mumbai attacks.

They said Britain had taken the position that evidence concerning terror activities launched from Pakistan in India was already there with Pakistan recalling that in 2005 Pakistan had publicly stopped ISI’s help to the militants in their attacks across the LoC.

However, according to these circles when Britain offered help in the efforts to rein in the jihadists, the ISI reportedly said it would continue to control Lashker-e-Taiba and would only move the LeT’s training camps from the LoC to farther inside Azad Kashmir.

It is claimed by these circles here that Britain believes that the training still continues in those camps as Pakistan does not have a proper and effective control of those training camps which need to be dismantled.

They said that in the opinion of the British government, Pakistan army’s policy of ‘coordination with and control of militant groups’ had not worked and needed to be replaced by a new policy.

Britain has also asked about any mechanism in place in Pakistan to know what the ISI is doing and to influence it. In this connection Britain offered that Pakistan could benefit from Britain’s experience of transparency and accountability of the agencies.

Britain is reported to have said that the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office would very much like to work with Pakistan to develop the counter-terrorism strategy of Pakistan and Britain.

Britain is said to be heavily dependent on inputs from Pakistan in regard to the counter-terrorism part of its own national security strategy.

However, Prime Minister Brown, it is said, was not satisfied with the work on counter-radicalisation and, therefore, coordination with Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior and FIA is being sought to be improved.Britain is also said to have sent an assessment of situation in Mohmand agency, Peshawar and Swat prepared by the British High Commission in Islamabad which has described the situation as ‘quite gloomy’.

Britain, it is said, accepted that Pakistan army’s counter terrorism capacity was limited, but was worried by the emphasis in training at the Staff College Quetta that tells that the enemy is India.

Britain is said to have also offered to help in capacity building but wants to know about Pakistan’s strategy and the entity which is driving the political/ comprehensive strategy in Fata and any single point of contact whom Britain can support financially.

Britain is said to believe that the Friends of Pakistan will want to know this when the Trust Funds are established for NWFP and Balochistan.

Britain is also said to have told Pakistan that it wants to see President Zardari and President Karzai taking strategic ownership of the border areas and that at the moment Pakistan’s strategy on Fata looked ad-hoc.

Britain is said to have also emphasised the need to formalise/institutionalise coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the political/strategic level.