Although India remains the main target of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), it has spread its influence internationally to Europe and broader Asia-Pacific region, a top US general has told the US Congress.
'It has historically been focused on the Kashmir region, particularly in order to conduct attacks inside India. And it was responsible for the (26/11) attack in Mumbai that we're all very familiar with,' Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the US Pacific Command said Tuesday.
'Unquestionably, they have spread their influence internationally, and they are no longer solely focused in South Asia and on India, although that continues to be their main training ground, and India continues to be their main target,' he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
LeT, blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has not only established its base in South Asian countries including Nepal and Bangladesh, but the US has evidence of LeT's presence in Europe and the broader Asia-Pacific region, he said.
The United States was actively working with South Asian governments including Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India to contain LeT, he said, as 'We know that Lashkar-e-Taiba is currently laid down throughout South Asia.'
In containing terrorist activity in the region, the US is focused on its partnership with India, Willard said. 'It's a longstanding relationship that requires a great deal of attention given India's prominence in South Asia and the many challenges that surround India.'
'And we're currently working with India and the regional nations on containing the terrorist activity, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba and that particular terrorist organisation, which, as you'll recall, attacked Mumbai and continues to pose a threat throughout South Asia,' he said.
'Lashkar-e-Taiba is historically linked in that capacity. The government of Pakistan has denounced that linkage between LeT. The Indian government would offer that it still exists,' Willard said.
Responding to questions about Pakistan's relationship with LeT, Willard said: 'The discussion regarding the government of Pakistan's relationship to LeT is a very sensitive one.'
'Given the US relationship with both India and Pakistan, and the importance that we place on those relationships, it's important that this particular discussion continue to take place and that we continue to work with the government of Pakistan to root out terrorism that exists within their borders,' he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)