The US shares a concern with India over the continued ability of terrorist proxies to operate on Pakistani soil, a senior Trump administration official has said, stressing that tackling this core issue by Islamabad is critical to the prospects of its better relations with New Delhi.
Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said conversations on counterterrorism had always been a very important part of the US-India relationship and the two countries had been coordinating on terrorist designations.
“We have a thriving counterterrorism dialogue. We have ongoing efforts by the US administration to sanction a range of global terrorists, including nearly a dozen Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) targets and aliases over the last year,” she said at an event at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top American think-tank.
The LeT militant group carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack, killing 166 people, including American nationals.
“And certainly, with the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai attack approaching, we share a concern over the continued ability of terrorists proxies to operate on Pakistani soil,” Wells said.
Referring to a recent remark by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Wells said the US was “looking for actions, not words” from the government of Pakistan. And obviously this is a shared concern, she said.
Pompeo, who recently visited Islamabad before he travelled to New Delhi, had a good constructive consultations with the new Pakistani leadership, she said.
“It was his first opportunity to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and it was an opportunity for the Secretary to lay out aspirations for the relationship,” she said, adding that she saw Pakistan as a sovereign country that had a choice to make.
“I would hope that the choice is what was attributed to a Chief of Army Staff, General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa who said as long as there are extremist non-state forces operating in Pakistan, Pakistan couldn’t be a normal state,” Wells said.
“It is tackling that core issue that’s going to be so critical both to the quality of our bilateral relationship but also to the prospects for better relations between India and Pakistan,” she said.