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ISI spreading terrorism in India, says US

A top US military strategist has affirmed ahead of a meeting with the visiting Indian Army Chief that Pakistan has been fomenting terrorism in India and Afghanistan, endorsing New Delhi’s and the Indian Army’s long-held view at a time when the two neighbours are sparring over the issue.

The damning public US indictment of Pakistan’s use of terrorism came from US Admiral Mike Mullen, who told the Arabic television network Al Jazeera hours ahead of his meeting with General Deepak Kapoor on Thursday that in the long run the ISI has to change its strategic thrust, which has been to foment chaotic activity in its border countries.

When the surprised anchor asked, ‘‘What do you mean when you say the ISI has had a strategic thrust to foment chaos in bordering countries?’’ Mullen did not mince words. ‘‘What I mean is that they have clearly focused on support of … historically, of militant organizations both east and west. I mean that’s been a focus of theirs in Kashmir, historically, as well as in FATA. And I think … that fundamentally has to change.’’

Mullen’s observations are critical because Pakistan has lately taken to accusing India of fomenting insurgency in Balochistan and even backing the Taliban to offset its indictment in Kashmir, charges that have been scoffed at in both New Delhi and Washington. The prevailing Pakistani narrative, encouraged by some of its high officials, is that India and Afghanistan are in cahoots with Washington in destabilizing Pakistan, including the use of Pakistan’s own proxy, Taliban, against it.

Islamabad has also complained repeatedly to the US about the strong Indian influence in Afghanistan where Pakistan is now largely despised, except in Taliban strongholds. There is palpable agitation in Pakistan over closer military ties between New Delhi and Washington, even though many in India itself are still leery and distrustful about the US.

On Thursday, Gen Kapoor began a five-day visit to the US. A bland statement from the Indian side that said, ‘‘General Kapoor held discussions on various bilateral and military issues with their (sic) counterpart General George W Casey Jr, and chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff committee, Admiral Mike Mullen,’’ masked the intense engagement that got underway between the two sides, including moves to detoxify Pakistan.

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