Conflict & Justice

Tough sell: US-Pakistan ties are good for India, says Napolitano


Activists of India's Fight Against Terrorism Society shout anti-Pakistan slogans during a protest in New Delhi on May 8, 2011. Strained US-Pakistan ties following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden are being seen in India as an opportunity to ramp up pressure on Islamabad over militant groups operating on Pakistani soil.



In India this week to discuss joint counterterrorism strategy, US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano struck a discordant note with her insistence that a closer US relationship with Pakistan is good for India, reports the Hindu.

America may need Pakistan to run its supplies into Afghanistan. But India is looking down the barrel of the billions of dollars in military hardware that the US has supplied to its wayward allies over the years, so the return to the age-old US policy of sticking its head in the sand about Pakistan's complicity in terrorism will not sit well here.

“We welcome and encourage better relations between India and Pakistan. Because the bottom line is since 9/11, attacks on the U.S., Pakistan has been a good counter-terrorism partner with us and India has been a good counter-terrorism partner with us,” Ms. Napolitano said, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, according to the Hindu.

Napolitano paid homage to the police victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks by placing a ceremonial wreath at a memorial for the officers who were killed and standing, head bowed, in silent tribute for one minute, AFP reported.

Inconveniently for her see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil message, Napolitano's visit coincides with the testimony of David Coleman Headley in Chicago, where the confessed conspirator in the Mumbai attacks has already testified that he received aid and instructions from Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

According to a US embassy press release, Napolitano will meet with Indian officials and representatives of private industry to share best practices to promote homeland security and coordinate counterterrorism and law enforcement cooperation between the US and India during her visit. 

Her statements today, however, suggested that her visit was, at least in part, associated with US attempts to placate Pakistan following the killing of Osama bin Laden, and that she was perhaps more conscious of her audience in Islamabad than her interlocutors in New Delhi.

“The United States thinks that there has to be some kind of support network for bin Laden inside Pakistan. We do not know, who and what that support network was. We do not know there might have been people inside the government or who were directly involved,” Ms. Napolitano said, according to the Hindu.

“That is something for investigations and importantly that is something that the Pakistani Government needs to investigate and investigate thoroughly. They have already indicated to us that they have an interest in finding out what kind of support networks that bin Laden have had and we are encouraging them to pursue that very aggressively,” she said.