Al Qaeda can trigger Indo-Pak war: Gates
* US defence secretary says India’s patience will be limited if there is a repeat of 26/11
* Says he will allay Pak concerns to allow it to focus on war against terror
NEW DELHI: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday warned that South Asian militant groups were seeking to destabilise the entire region and could trigger a war between Pakistan and India.
Gates told reporters that terrorists in Al Qaeda’s “syndicate” – which includes the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba – posed a danger to where the region as a whole. They are trying “to destabilise not just Afghanistan, not just Pakistan, but potentially the whole region by provoking a conflict perhaps between India and Pakistan through some provocative act,” Gates said.
“This is a very complicated issue and very dangerous for the whole region,” he added.
Patience: To a question, Gates said it would “not be unreasonable to assume that India’s patience will be limited” if 26/11 were to be repeated.
Focus: Gates said he would allay Pakistan’s concerns to allow it to focus on fighting these groups. He said it would be “very dangerous” to single out any one group of the syndicate as a target as all of them needed to be combated together, adding that, it was important for all the countries concerned to “remain engaged and eliminate the terror groups”. Suggesting a transparency of India and Pakistan operations in Afghanistan, the US defence secretary denied the idea of giving any military role to India.
He said India’s support in the development of Kabul, to the tune of $1.3 billion was ideal and significant.
“Let us be honest with one other, there is real suspicion in Pakistan to what India is doing in Afghanistan. And so I think focusing on development, humanitarian assistance, probably in some limited areas of training but with full transparency towards each other is what will help allay these suspicions and create opportunities of greater help for the Afghan government,” he added. iftikhar gilani/afp