The United States has asked Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for planning attacks on India, a state department spokesperson said on Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the US Congress that countries sponsoring terror groups should be isolated.
“This is one of the steps that the US is encouraging Pakistan to do for the improvement of its relations with India,” deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said.
Ties between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan are seeing a chill after the January attack on an airbase in Punjab’s Pathankot. New Delhi blames the strike on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. India also accuses Pakistan of not taking enough action on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people when terrorists believed to be from Pakistan attacked the city.
“We believe that Pakistan and India stand to benefit from practical cooperation and encourage direct dialogue aimed at increasing cooperation and reducing tensions,” Toner said.
“And that includes steps by Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to plan attacks in India and that Pakistan takes steps to address or to go after, I think, all the terrorist groups that are currently using its territory,” Toner said.
In an address to the US Congress, PM Modi said on Wednesday terrorism had to be fought with “one voice” and commended American Parliament for sending out a clear message by refusing to “reward” those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains, an apparent reference to the blocking of sale of 8 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
Toner said Pakistan was one of the issues discussed between Modi and Obama when the leaders met at the White House on Tuesday. A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two leaders called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice.
“Certainly that was one of the discussions, frankly, that was raised at the – or one of the issues, frankly, that was raised in discussions with Prime Minister Modi. They talked about a wide range of regional issues, in fact,” he said.
“Our bilateral relations with India and Pakistan are separate and stand on their own merits, and so I don’t think we – it’s not prudent for us to view our security cooperation in the region in kind of a zero-sum game – or zero-sum terms, rather.”
“I think it’s important for the countries of the region that they all have constructive security relationships with each other. And that’s Pakistan, that’s India, and it’s also Afghanistan,” Toner said.