New Delhi: India scored a diplomatic victory over Pakistan on Tuesday when visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed Pakistan for terrorism and asked it to “dismantle safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks,” including those of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and D-Company.”
Pakistan was also isolated in the region with a joint announcement by Kerry and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for trilateral cooperation between India, US and Afghanistan to build infrastructure in the war torn country.
India is already in talks with Iran and Russia to enter into another Afghanistan specific tri-lateral pact to complete a ‘string of pearls’ around Islamabad.
In a meeting with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval earlier in the day, Kerry discussed regional security challenges in South Asia, as well counter-terrorism efforts, said US state department spokesperson Mark Toner.
A senior US official said Kerry would urge Prime Minister Modi in a meeting on Wednesday to open talks with Pakistan to defuse tension.
“We have a long-standing policy of encouraging and advocating dialogue between the two countries on addressing areas of difference, and that continues to be our position. But we have also underscored that combating terrorism is a high priority for the United States in its bilateral relations with all countries in the region,” the official added.
The second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, however, could not resolve issues related to visa fee hike, easy access to Indian nationals and the totalisation pact that would have allowed citizens from the two countries to repatriate their social security savings when they return to their home country.
Though, both sides announced slew of measures to boost trade and commerce, they could not agree on a bilateral investment treaty, leaving many issues for next occupant of the White House.
Swaraj said, “Secretary Kerry and I also agreed on the need for Pakistan to do more to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice quickly.” She said both sides discussed at length the issue of terrorism, which is the key challenge to the international community, and the foremost threat to international peace and security.
She said she also briefed Kerry on the continuing problem of cross-border terrorism that India and the larger region faces from Pakistan. “We both agreed that nations must not maintain double standards, such as the categorisation of good and bad terrorists, nor must they act as sanctuaries and safe havens for terrorist organisations.”
Secretary Kerry said the US doesn’t make distinctions between good and bad terrorists. ‘‘Terror is terror,” said Kerry, reiterating America’s support to India’s demand that Pakistan punish the attackers involved in 26/11 and January’s terror strike on the Pathankot air force base.
On the India-US-Afghanistan trilateral, Kerry attempted to ameliorate Pakistani fears, saying the mechanism is not aimed at isolating the country.
He said Washington was in favour of engaging Taliban, but only under the auspices of the government in Kabul. He said it was vital for Pakistan itself to join other nations to fight against terrorism. “Pakistan as a country is not isolated, but encouraged as a friend to chalk a road map of its own choices in tacking the challenge of terrorism,” he added.
Kerry also cited cyber-security and energy as areas where both India and US could expand cooperation.