Source: Defense News
US Gives Wide Berth to Pak on Pathankot Probe
Soldiers are seen on the top of a building at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot. (File Photo)
WASHINGTON: United States on Thursday gave Pakistan a wide berth on the Pathankot terror attack, essentially saying Islamabad could take its own sweet time investigating the assault.
Washington also suggested Pakistan should be trusted with the investigations despite its dubious record in the matter, and that it (the US) understood bringing perpetrators of terrorism to justice “can be hard.”
“I can’t speak for how long it might take them to complete an investigation or the degree to which they intend to be transparent about it after they’ve completed it,” was among the many astonishing assertions made by state department spokesperson John Kirby during a daily briefing on Thursday.
“It’s not for us to ascribe a timeline to somebody else’s investigation. Obviously, in all investigations, you want it to be thorough and you want it to be complete. And clearly, we all like them to be done as quick as possible and transparently discussed when it’s complete. But this is for the Government of Pakistan to sort out how long this investigation is going to take,” Kirby added.
Kirby’s rationale for Pakistan’s need for timeless investigation was the “awful long time” it took the United States to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, a fact that overlooked bin Laden being hidden from US eyes for nearly a decade (purportedly by the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment) in contrast to Pakistani terrorists such as Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed who operate in plain sight under protection of its military intelligence establishment.
In fact, Kirby did not even refer to the State Department’s own $ 10 million bounty for information on Hafiz Saeed, lying unclaimed.
The extraordinary briefing was replete with stirring defence of Pakistan by the US spokesman. Here are some of the exchanges.
QUESTION: Yes, you talked to them when Nawaz Sharif was here. And if you remember the joint statement.. He promised that he’s going to go back and take action against these terror groups. Has he taken action?
MR KIRBY: A couple of points. Pakistan itself has condemned this attack and made clear that they’re committed to investigate it. So let’s let them do that and let’s see where the investigation goes.
QUESTION: Bruce Riedel, who previously worked with NSC and now is with a think tank, wrote an op-ed yesterday saying that ISI was involved behind this terrorist attack in Pathankot and also in Mazar-e-Sharif. What do you say about that?
MR KIRBY: I saw Mr Riedel’s piece. I’m not in a position to confirm the veracity of his conclusions. What I can tell you is that the Government of Pakistan itself condemned this attack. They said they’re going to investigate it. They said they’re not going to discriminate between terrorist groups when they conduct counterterrorism operations. They’ve been very open about that, and we look forward to seeing the results of their investigation.
QUESTION: Informations provided by Bruce Riedel are always taken seriously, but do you have – what is your independent assessment of who was behind this attack?
MR KIRBY: I don’t have an independent assessment of who was behind this attack. We don’t have an independent assessment. A, it just happened two days ago; B, it’s being investigated by the Pakistanis. They’ve condemned it, we condemned it. Let’s let their investigation move forward and we’ll see where it goes.
QUESTION: I guess the question is: Do you have confidence in the Pakistanis to conduct an investigation? This is the same Pakistan, right, that condemned 9/11 and yet bin Ladin was found living right next door to a Pakistani military facility.
MR KIRBY: Academy.
QUESTION: Academy. Still a facility. Right? I mean, they said they had no idea, whatever, but I mean, do you think that they’re capable?
MR KIRBY: Well, we certainly look forward to and expect and want to see a thorough, complete, fair, and transparent investigative process. And we’re going to have to let it work through.
QUESTION: But you have no timeline for this? You can wait —
MR KIRBY: It’s not for —
QUESTION: — as in the case of Mumbai terrorist attack, 26/11?
MR KIRBY: It’s not for us to ascribe a timeline to somebody else’s investigation.
The US stand is part of a long-serving American policy not to publicly name or shame Pakistan for its well-chronicled involvement in terrorism (which many US officials and analysts acknowledge in private and have even testified in hearings), mainly on account of Washington’s dependence on Pakistan for access to land-locked Afghanistan.At least one US spokesman it the past has been awarded one of Pakistan’s highest civilian award Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam for his “contribution” to US-Pakistan relations.
The Pakistani media expectedly seized on the wide berth angle, with the Associated Press of Pakistan story crowing, “US says Pakistan to determine its own timeline for Pathankot probe”