US Warns India Of Militant Strike: ‘Attack Can Trigger Indo-Pak War’20 January 2010
New Delhi: United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday warned India about the possibility of it facing more attacks from al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) provoking Indo-Pak confrontation. Gates who is visiting India, told the media persons: “The LeT which is operating in league with al-Qaeda is dangerous for the whole region of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.” Gates said militant groups were planning more attacks on India to destabilise the country and only cooperation among all the countries will lead to the reduction and if possible elimination of the threat. When asked if he had warned the Indian leadership of another imminent attack by terrorist outfits, Gates said there is better cooperation among states at present. “I think there is very close cooperation not only between India and the US but other powers also. They also give warning information about such attacks or if some planning is going on,” Gates added. “It is important to recognise that there is threat in the entire region from the al-Qaeda and it has been identified that the area of Afghanistan and Pakistan border is a safe haven for these militant groups,” he said “It is the Qaeda along with the Taliban that is acting in Afghanistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban is focusing on Pakistan and the Qaeda along with the LeT is focusing on not only Pakistan but also on India,” Gates added. Recognising this as a complicated situation he said, “The situation is complicated in the region. The militant operations intend to destabilise the region and a 26-11 type of attack on India will test New Delhi’s patience.” “It is important for us to recognise the magnitude of the threat and try to reduce and eliminate the threat from the region. This requires maximum cooperation amongst us,” he added. Gates said India may lose its diplomatic restraint with Pakistan after any repeat Mumbai-style attack and militants in the region may use this to provoke the two rivals to war. “It (the militant syndicate) is intended to destabilize not only Afghanistan or Pakistan but whole region. They may lead India and Pakistan to war by a provocative act. It is dangerous for the whole region,” he added. Gates’ statement came days after a study from the US’s Council on Foreign Relations, which also had warned of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organisations in the near future. “The threat of another Mumbai-type attack is undeniable. Numerous Pakistan-based groups remain motivated and are ready to strike Indian targets,” Daniel Markey, a leading South Asia expert had remarked. Gates arrived in India Tuesday on a two-day visit. He has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. Terming the assistance provided by India in rebuilding strife-torn Afghanistan “ideal”, Gates suggested greater transparency on part of New Delhi and Islamabad on the projects being undertaken in Afghanistan would allay their “suspicions” about each other. “I think, frankly, the kind of extraordinary support India is providing is ideal. Let us be honest that there are real suspicions in both India and Pakistan about what the other is doing in Afghanistan. Let the countries take up the work with full transparency as this would help allay suspicions and provide greater opportunities for development,” he contended. Gates came to India ahead of his trip to Pakistan. He had last visited the Indian capital February 2008. His visit was preceded by another senior official in the Barack Obama administration, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who was here Monday to confer with Indian officials ahead of the London conference on Afghanistan.