/ 4 December 2008

Rice in Pakistan, urges ‘tough line’ on terrorism

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced trip to Pakistan on Thursday to urge the Pakistani government to take a ”tough line” on terrorism in the wake of last week’s militant attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai.

”The global threat of extremism and terrorism has to be met by all states, taking a very tough and hard line, and so that is what I am going to discuss,” Rice told reporters travelling with her from New Delhi to Islamabad.

”Pakistan has to determine its own response here. It just needs to be a robust response and it needs to be effective,” she said.

India has blamed groups based on Pakistani territory for the attack by a band of gunmen that killed nearly 200 people in the country’s financial capital.

Rice was going to meet army chief General Ashfaq Kayani first at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, before holding talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the leaders of an eight-month-old civilian government.

She said she was not acting as a go-between with New Delhi, and said the onus was on the Pakistani leadership ”as a whole” to tackle the threat of terrorism.

”I am going there to talk about a Pakistani response, not to carry messages,” she said. ”This is not a matter of the international community somehow in juxtaposition, or against, the Pakistani government.”

Rice’s visit to Islamabad followed one by the chairperson of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on Wednesday.

America’s top military officer urged Pakistan to investigate all possible links to the Mumbai attacks.

In a thinly veiled reference to the Kashmir-focused militants suspected of carrying out the attack on Mumbai, Mullen also encouraged Pakistan to act against jihadi groups everywhere, not just in regions bordering Afghanistan, where Pakistani security forces have been fighting tribal militants, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. — Reuters