New Delhi, (IANS) In its security talks with the US, India Friday termed Pakistan a "fragile" state harbouring terrorism as a "state policy", even as New Delhi and Washington announced measures to step up counter-terror, intelligence accessing and sharing and cyber-security cooperation.
US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who arrived in India Tuesday on a four-day trip, held a meeting with Home Minister P. Chidambaram to jointly launch the first US-India homeland security dialogue.
Chidambaram, in his opening remarks at the day-long meeting, sounded an alarm over the security situation in Pakistan, apparently referring to some 20 deadly attacks in that country that have claimed nearly 150 lives since the May 2 killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid by crack US commandos.
"India lives in perhaps the most difficult neighbourhood in the world. The global epicentre of terrorism is in our immediate western neighbourhood. The vast infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan has for long flourished as an instrument of state policy," he said.
But Napolitano refused to comment on the home minister's remarks in which he also said Pakistan was an "increasingly radicalised" nation with "fragile" state structure.
However, the two leaders, in a joint statement, agreed to press Pakistan for expediting the prosecution of those involved in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
They reiterated their governments' commitment to bring to justice the perpetrators and the supporters of the carnage that claimed 166 lives, including of six Americans.
At the end of the talks between senior security officials of the two countries, the two sides identified six key areas for cooperation.
They include maritime, border and coastal security; efforts to stop illegal money used to foster terrorism and terror groups; cooperation in mega-city policing; counter-narcotics measures; trans-national crime; and security of infrastructure, transportation and trade.
The two sides also agreed on deepening technological cooperation to fight the threat of terrorism and other security-related challenges.
According to sources, the two sides also discussed the ongoing trial of the Mumbai attack in a US court during which key conspirator David Coleman Headley has alleged that Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was involved in the assault.
Napolitano assured India of more "access" to Headley after the trial in the Mumbai terror case concludes.
But she declined to comment on the outcome of the trial. "When the case is litigated, it is not appropriate to comment," Napolitano said at a joint press conference with Chidambaram when asked to comment on Headley's revelations.
The crucial talks were held as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Pakistan to review the situation there in the aftermath of Osama's death.
Without naming Pakistan, the India-US joint statement said Chidambaram and Napolitano "reaffirmed their governments' resolve to defeating the forces of terrorism and called for effective steps by all countries to eliminate safe havens and infrastructure for terrorism".
Asked if the US would use its its influence on Pakistan to build pressure on that country for the prosecution of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Haafiz Sayeed, who is believed to have masterminded the Mumbai attack, Napolitano again declined to comment.
"Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) is in Pakistan today and I leave the comments about Pakistan for her. She will make some comment," she said.
Napolitano, however, said the Pakistan-based LeT was as dangerous as Al Qaeda. "The LeT is ranked right up there with Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-related groups as a terrorist organisation, one that seeks to harm people and take innocent lives."