Mulford Wanted US to Emulate India's Anti-Terror Efforts

Lalit K Jha/Washington
Mulford Wanted US to Emulate India's Anti-Terror Efforts
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Given India's successful handling of "asymmetrical" terrorist and insurgent movements like those in Punjab and Kashmir, the then US ambassador David Mulford had advised the Bush administration to learn and gain from New Delhi's counter-terrorism experiences, according to a secret memo made public by WikiLeaks.

"Using every opportunity available to signal our interest in learning from India -- which has successfully tackled 'asymmetrical' insurgencies in Punjab and Kashmir -- will go a long way to reduce this distrust and may prompt Indian officials to be more receptive to our offers of support," Mulford wrote in the secret embassy cable dated February 23, 2007.

"There is much India could offer us of value to strengthen our counter-terrorism efforts. For instance, they can give us more information about the nature of the terrorist threat in India and South Asia, and help us develop new strategies for defeating terrorists derived from India's experience in Kashmir," he said in the cable addressed to Frank Urbancic, the then Acting-coordinator for Counter-terrorism.

They also may have information about Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and Pakistani terrorists that they could share the Ambassador wrote in his secret memo.

The United States, which has accused the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, of stealing its secret cables, has however, refused to either deny or confirm the authenticity of these cables.

Urbanic's visit to New Delhi took place a little over a week after the bombing of the Samjhauta Express train between New Delhi and Lahore.

At the same time, the Ambassador noted about the lack of cooperation between India and the US on counter-terrorism issues and how New Delhi remained genuinely concerned about Pakistan's continued support to terrorist groups.

"India's lingering zero-sum suspicion of US policies towards Pakistan, its fiercely independent foreign policy stance, its traditional go-it-alone strategy towards its security and its domestic political sensitivities over the sentiments of its large Muslim population, have all contributed to India's caution in working with us on a joint counter-terrorism strategy," according to the cable.

While India has been very keen to receive information and technology from the US to further its counter-terrorism efforts, it provides "little in return, despite our belief that the country should be an equal partner in this relationship," it said.

"India frequently rebuffs our offers of support for their police investigations of terrorist attacks and our offers of training and support are often met with a stalled logistical pace," the cable said.

The cable said that the US "offered forensic and investigative support to India in the wake of the Samjhauta train bombings, but India refused."

"One of the most important tasks we will have with India at the CTJWG (Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group) is to reinforce that we must make this relationship reciprocal.

We must keep in mind that it will be a slow process to build the kind of trust necessary with India to achieve the relationship that we are seeking, but we must reinforce to our Indian counterparts the positive direction we seek for our partnership," it said.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that the US perception of India's "lack of cooperation on US CT (counter-terrorism) concerns often stems in part from India's lack of capacity to manage these issues bureaucratically. India just this month began to stand up a Counter-Terrorism Cell in the MEA's office of International Organisations," the Ambassador wrote.

"The Cell was put in place largely to manage India's new Counter-Terrorism Joint Mechanism with Pakistan, including bringing India's intelligence agencies in line with the Prime Minister's thinking on India's relations with Pakistan," he said.

This Cell will now bring five additional people on board to manage these issues, although all of the arrangements are still being handled by just two officers, he said.

"Additionally, India's police and security forces are overworked and hampered by bad police practices, including the widespread use of torture in interrogations, rampant corruption, poor training, and a general inability to conduct solid forensic investigations," the Ambassador wrote.

India's most elite security forces also "regularly cut corners to avoid working through India's lagging justice system, which has approximately 13 judges per million people.

"Thus Indian police officials often do not respond to our requests for information about attacks or our offers of support because they are covering up poor practices, rather than rejecting our help outright," he said.

Mulford said India's traditional concerns over US engagement with Pakistan and "longstanding distrust" left over from the Cold War-era between their intelligence communities have been difficult to overcome.

However, the "sustained increase in acts of violence by political and religious extremists in India have demanded better cooperation on counter-terrorism," he said.

"In a recent meeting, your counterpart, Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary (International Organisations) KC Singh, mentioned favourably the idea of semi-annual meetings between GOI and S/CT, and he clearly sees the US CT relationship as among India's most important.

Improving our counter-terrorism cooperation is a crucial step in building the strategic relationship President (George W) Bush envisions with India, and your visit offers us an excellent chance to do so," he said.
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