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Aziz Haniffa in Washington
If New Delhi has any illusion that Pakistan would be designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the Bush administration for fomenting cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, it would remain just that.
It is also unlikely that the Inter-Service Intelligence-sponsored Lashkar-e-Tayiba would be named a foreign terrorist organisation in the near future.
That the Bush administration has no intention of even acknowledging that Islamabad is fostering cross-border terrorism in Kashmir was made quite clear by several officials.
National Security Council official Harry Thomas implied at a White House briefing to a select group of Indian-Americans that naming Islamabad as a state sponsor of terrorism would lead to Talibanisation of the country.
"It is in no one's interest if Pakistan becomes a failed state," he said.
"I am very sympathetic to the victims of terrorism in Kashmir. But to say that the government of Pakistan is a state sponsor of international terrorism would be stretching it too far."
A senior administration official said, "If we have sufficient reason then we will name Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. But it does require a certain amount of proof, and we don't have that."
"An attack on a police post is not a terrorist attack," the official explained. "But acts of real terrorism, like setting off a bomb in a bus station, things like that, have to be linked directly to the Pakistani government, and that's not so easy."
"Just because a terrorist organisation is based in Pakistan does not necessarily mean that it is a state sponsor of terrorism," the official added.
When reminded that the State Department's annual report on terrorism had acknowledged official Pakistani complicity in terrorist activities, the official said, "Credible reports mean that there is some information. It's something that merits further examination. But it is not proof."
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