In a move that will further isolate Pakistan in the region, India and the US on Tuesday announced the start of trilateral cooperation to strengthen and stabilise Afghanistan. Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry also talked tough with Islamabad asking it to rein in terror emanating from its territory.
The three countries will start the trilateral cooperation next month on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly, where Pakistan has threatened to raise the Kashmir issue. During her joint press conference with Kerry, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Pakistan should stop terrorism and dismantle the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the D-Company networks.
“I briefed Secretary Kerry on the continuing problem of cross-border terrorism that India and the larger region face 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. “We reaffirmed the urgent necessity for Pakistan to dismantle safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and the D-Company,” Swaraj said.
The US Secretary of State fell short of mentioning Pakistan in his statement, but in reply to a question, he made it clear that it will not make any distinction between “good and bad terrorists” and urged justice for the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks. In response to a query about the India-US-Afghanistan trilateral meet, “It is in Indian and Pakistan interest to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan….
As far as Pakistan feeling isolated is concerned, we all are in touch with Pakistan Prime Minister and Army Chief regarding the sanctuary being provided to Haqqani network and LeT,” said Kerry. Kerry said that instead of feeling isolated, Pakistan should see it as a roadmap for making its choices to combat terror. “Pakistan on the contrary is not isolated, it should feel encouraged… It can find roadmap for its own choices for tackling terror,” said Kerry.
Kerry arrived in New Delhi on Monday after visiting Bangladesh to discuss the means of combating terrorism with authorities in Dhaka. He was here to take part in the 2nd India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. The US Secretary of State is skipping Islamabad during his South Asia visit giving a signal loud and clear to India’s western neighbour.
“We have agreed to work together to strengthen the National Unity Government in Afghanistan,” Swaraj said. The cooperation between the three countries is crucial as New Delhi has been wary of helping Kabul as it might create unease in Islamabad. However, under the Modi government, India has changed its policy of giving military aid to Afghanistan, much to the discomfort of Pakistan.