US urges Pakistan to improve ties with India

Updated June 10, 2019

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The United States has urged Pakistan to take “sustained and irreversible steps” to improve ties with India by enhancing its efforts to eradicate militancy from the region. — Reuters/File
The United States has urged Pakistan to take “sustained and irreversible steps” to improve ties with India by enhancing its efforts to eradicate militancy from the region. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The United States has urged Pakistan to take “sustained and irreversible steps” to improve ties with India by enhancing its efforts to eradicate militancy from the region.

A White House official made these remarks while talking to Indian journalists in Washington this week, as Pakistan renewed its efforts to engage India in direct talks for reducing tensions with its eastern neighbour.

Since the re-election of Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan has sent two letters to New Delhi, underlining Islamabad’s desire for better relations between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Read: PM again offers talks to India on Kashmir, terrorism

In his second letter, the prime minister told his Indian counterpart that Pakistan wants to peacefully resolve all its differences with India, particularly the core issue of Kashmir. In his first letter, he also agreed to hold talks on the issue of terrorism on India’s demand.

Mr Khan reminded Mr Modi that talks between the two nations would not only improve bilateral ties but also help eliminate poverty from South Asia, as peace brings progress and prosperity.

India, however, has not only rejected Pakistan’s offer of talks but has also ruled out the possibility of a meeting between the two premiers on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on June 13-14.

When Indian journalists asked a White House official to comment on Islamabad’s peace overtures, he said the United States expects Pakistan to arrest and prosecute those involved in terrorist activities and to prevent militants from “moving around freely, acquiring weapons and crossing into India to carry out attacks”, the Indian media reported.

The White House official also said that Washington was “looking for sustained and irreversible steps that shut down militant operations”.

According to Indian media reports, the White House believes that until these militants groups are put out of business, it’s going to be very difficult for India and Pakistan to achieve a sustained peace.

A senior State Department official said earlier that after the Pulwama terrorist attack, Pakistan had taken some actions against designated terrorist organisations. Pakistan also had taken some concrete steps to counter terrorism financing, he added. “We welcome those steps.”

He stressed the need for addressing the underlying causes of tensions between India and Pakistan, adding that militant activities played a major role in increasing tensions between the two neighbours.

“So, we certainly encourage the creation of an environment that will lead to a dialogue,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2019