U.S. Wants Pakistan Crackdown On Militants

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gestures as she talks to journalists during a press conference at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Dec. 4, 2008.
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
This story was written by CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Dubai, Maria Usman in Islamabad, and CBSNews.com's Tucker Reals in London.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew into Pakistan Thursday to press the country's leaders to take a bold stand against the militants widely suspected of waging the deadly terror siege in Mumbai, India last week.

CBS News Farhan Bokhari reported that sources inside Pakistan say Secretary Rice made it clear the U.S. wants to see a series of "concrete steps" from Islamabad, going beyond just another ban on Islamic groups.

Rice said measures such as arresting people and putting them on trial on the basis of solid evidence should be, "part of a new and more acceptable effort," a senior Pakistani security official told Bokhari.

Her meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad led him to reiterate his commitment to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, vowing "strong action" against any militants in his country found to be involved.

Zardari stopped short, however, of meeting India's demand that any suspects be turned over to New Delhi. He said earlier this week that any suspects - with proven evidence against them - would be tried in Pakistan.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a group created in the 1980's by Pakistan's military spy agency to fight Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region, is widely believed to have been behind the attack.

The LET was banned in Pakistan in 2002, following U.S. pressure in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, but it has recreated itself under a new name, Jamaat ud Dawa, and Western intelligence sources have told CBS News the group is likely still receiving financial and logistical support from elements inside the Pakistani security apparatus.

Lashkar-i-taiba has ordered its fighters based in the tribal areas to enter Afghanistan, in order to avoid being hunted by Pakistani authorities, according to a senior Pakistani official who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.

"These orders have been given since wednesday" the official said.

The LET was one of the groups mentioned by Rice in her meeting with Zardari, Bokhari reported. Thus far, American officials have publicly declined to specifically name any of the groups suspected in the Mumbai attack.

Reporting on the investigation Wednesday for CBSNews.com's new World Watch blog, correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported that Ajmal Amir Qasab, the only suspect in the Mumbai attack captured alive, had named an LET commander as the controller of the operation, according to Indian officials.

MacVicar said there were numerous other pieces of evidence, including a cell phone SIM card that pointed the investigation in the direction of the LET, and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Indian authorities put the country's airports on high alert Thursday after receiving intelligence of a possible airborne terror threat. The alert came as police continued to find unexploded ordinance at the locations attacked last week, and as criticism over the Indian government's ability to prevent the attack grew.

Rice and Zardari discussed the rising tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and the steps that are required to resolve the issue, reported CBS News' Maria Usman in Islamabad.

The Secretary of State said neither of the nuclear-armed neighbors was considering a military response to the increase in tension. There were reports earlier in the week that India might try to target the headquarters of Jaamat ud Dawa in Pakistan with missile strikes.

Bokhari reported that, according to security sources, Jaamat ud Dawa has moved many of its senior members away from the group's headquarters in recent days.

The militant organization is based on a sprawling compound in eastern Pakistan, near the border with India, which includes Islamic schools, mosques and residential quarters.

In regards to her confidence in India's and Pakistan's ability to deal directly with each other in this matter, Rice said she hoped both countries would "keep lines of communication open."

Rice noted that, despite the difficult circumstances presented by the Mumbai attack, relations between the nations had been improving, so there was a good base to work from, reported Usman.

Terrorism and security expert Michael Clarke told CBS News that everything possible must be done to prevent hostility between Pakistan and India.

"This crisis in south Asia will be a globally important crisis if it gets out of hand. We must prevent this becoming a war between two nuclear armed powers, or even a military standoff between two nuclear armed powers," said Clarke. (

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But Clarke was skeptical President George W. Bush's lame duck administration still carried enough diplomatic clout to make peace between the neighbors, "and the incoming administration has no power over anything at the moment. So there is a natural hiatus at the moment, and for all that America can make its views known, it can't do very much."

"The outside world has got to act now. It can't sit back and wait and see how things develop. They're already developing. We could be in the middle of a genuinely nasty crisis inside a couple of weeks," warned Clarke.

Rice also met Thursday with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, reported Usman, with whom she discussed the same issues. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qurishi were also present at the meeting.

Before leaving Pakistan, Rice told reporters that she had good discussions with leaders in both Pakistan and India, where she visited on Wednesday. She said the Mumbai attack showed a level of sophistication that warranted urgency by all the countries involved to bring the perpetrators to justice.