WASHINGTON: The United States has urged India and Pakistan to stay the course and not allow extremists to prevent them from engaging to resolve bilateral issues.
At a US State Department news briefing, spokesperson John Kirby also asked Pakistan to act against perpetrators of this week’s deadly attack on an Indian air force base.
“This is an issue – as are so many issues between India, Pakistan – we want to see them work out bilaterally,” he said.
The United States, he said, was strongly encouraging the two governments to “remain steadfast in their commitment to a more secure and prosperous future for both their countries and for the region”.
Noting that Pakistan had “spoken very powerfully” against the attack and had promised to go after those responsible, Mr Kirby said: “It’s certainly our expectation that they’ll do exactly the way they’ve said they will.”
The US official noted that terrorism was a “shared challenge” that “all countries in the region” must fight together.
He agreed with the observation that both India and Pakistan had shown restraint after the attack and there was no immediate risk of relapse into hostilities in South Asia.
The Obama administration has often said that it wanted India and Pakistan to work together to bring peace and stability to the region. It wants to continue this soft-persuasion in a way that enhances the India-Pakistan peace process.
“Our role has been and will continue to be one of encouraging regional cooperation and communication to get at what is actually a trans-regional threat,” Mr Kirby said.
When asked whether the Pathankot attack showed Pakistan’s failure to act against terror groups targeting India, he said: “We in the United States want everybody to treat it as a shared challenge … we’re mindful that there remain some safe havens that we obviously want to see cleared out. And we continue to engage with the government of Pakistan to that end.”
Mr Kirby said the US has been clear “with the highest levels” of the Pakistan government that its counter-terrorism operations must not discriminate among terrorist groups.
He noted that Pakistan too was a victim of terrorism.
“Thousands and thousands of Pakistani soldiers have been killed. Thousands of innocent Pakistani citizens have been killed,” he said.
The United States, he said, would continue to work for “increased cooperation, communication, coordination; increased information sharing and increased efforts against what we all believe is a shared challenge in the region.”
Asked if the US wanted Pakistan to do more in the fight against terrorism, Mr Kirby said: “We recognise there’s more everybody can do – not just Pakistan, but every nation in the region can do – because it is a shared challenge.”
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2016