US must push Pak to hand over Dawood to India

Washington: For bringing permanent Indo-Pak peace, the Obama administration must push Pakistan to hand over LeT terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim to India, a former top White House official has said.

Besides helping the two countries pave the way for a constructive dialogue on Kashmir, the US needs to disrupt the LeT`s fundraising and planning, said Juan C Zarate, who was the Deputy Assistant to the US President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism from 2005 to 2009.

"The focus should be on unearthing names and disrupting cells outside Pakistan that are tied to Lashkar-e-Toiba, which involves pressuring Islamabad for the names of Westerners who may have trained at Lashkar-e-Toiba camps," he wrote in an opinion piece in a leading American newspaper.

He said the Obama administration must push Pakistan to hand over LeT terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks and Dawood Ibrahim to India, in order to bring permanent peace between the two countries.

Currently a senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank, Zarate warned that LeT would try to derail the future Indo-Pak talks.

"The group does not want peace talks to resume, so it might act to derail progress. Elements of the group may see conflict with India as in their interest, especially after months of unrest in Kashmir. And the Pakistani government may not be able to control the monster it created," he wrote.

A war in South Asia would be disastrous, he said.

In addition to the human devastation, it would destroy efforts to bring stability to the region and disrupt terrorist havens in western Pakistan, he said.

"Worse, the Pakistani government might be induced to make common cause with Lashkar-e-Toiba, launching a proxy fight against India. Such a war would also fuel even more destructive violent extremism within Pakistan," he wrote.

"In the worst-case scenario, an attack could lead to a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. India`s superior conventional forces threaten Pakistan, and Islamabad could resort to nuclear weapons were a serious conflict to erupt," Zarate said.

Noting that LeT is a Frankenstein`s monster of the Pakistani government`s creation 20 years ago, Zarate said Lashkar holds the match that could spark a conflagration between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. The US should be directing political and diplomatic capital to prevent such a conflagration.

The meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials in Bhutan this month – their first high-level sit-down since last summer – set the stage for restarting serious talks on the thorny issue of Kashmir, Zarate wrote.

"Washington has only so much time. Indian officials are increasingly dissatisfied with Pakistan`s attempts to constrain Lashkar-e-Toiba and remain convinced that Pakistani intelligence supports the group," he wrote in the Post.