Nicolas Sarkozy launches attack on Pakistan over terrorist safe havens
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, launched a fierce attack on Pakistan during his visit to India, accusing Islamabad of allowing terrorist groups to form safe havens in its territory.
Mr Sarkozy said terrorist groups were free to launch attacks on India and Nato troops in Afghanistan from Pakistan.
His comments echoed those made by British Prime Minister David Cameron who said Pakistan could not be allowed to "look both ways" or export terrorism to its neighbours during his visit to India in July this year.
President Sarkozy was speaking in Mumbai where ten 'fedayeen commandos' from the Pakistan-based Lashkar e Taiba militant group killed 166 people in a three day massacre.
He said: "It is unacceptable that India's security can be threatened by groups of terrorists acting from neighbouring countries.
"It is unacceptable for Afghanistan and for our troops that the Taliban and al-Qaeda find safe haven in the border regions of Pakistan. We know the price that the Pakistani people are paying for terrorism. But it is unacceptable for the world that terrorist acts should be masterminded and carried out by terrorist groups in Pakistan," he said.
The Pakistani authorities must "step up their efforts and show that they are resolute in combating these criminals," he added, and pledged unlimited counter-terrorist co-operation with India.
After his speech at the Oberoi hotel where terrorists killed 32 guests, on November 26, 2008, the president and his wife Carla Bruni laid a wreath at a memorial for 18 of the city's police officers who lost their lives in the massacre. Two French nationals died in the attacks.
His attack on Pakistan's failure to clamp down on militant groups using its territory as a 'safe haven' follows similar comments by United States President Barack Obama last month at a memorial at the city's Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
President Sarkozy's attack marks an increase in pressure from Western countries on Pakistan to do more to clamp down on militant groups like Lashkar e Taiba. It follows revelations in the WikiLeaks disclosures that despite the international condemnation following the Mumbai attacks, arrested LeT leaders were able to continue their activities from jail.
In one cable dispatched in September last year, the United States' ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, said Pakistan continued to support groups like Lashkar e Taiba and the Taliban's Haqqani Network and that "no amount of money" could persuade it to abandon them.
"There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups, which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India. The only way to achieve a cessation of such support is to change the Pakistan government's own perception of its security requirements," she wrote.
In other cables, American diplomats revealed that LeT commanders were plotting to assassinate a Hindu nationalist politician in India little more than six months after the Mumbai attacks.
President Sarkozy is in India to improve security co-operation and increase trade with the world's second fastest-growing economy after China. On Monday he and Indian prime minister announced an agreement in principle on a $9.3bn (€7bn) deal for France to supply two nuclear reactors in Maharashtra state.
He also lobbied India to award its $11bn (€8.2bn) contract for multi-role combat aircraft to Dassault's Rafale.
Dassault is up against the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian defence companies.