India, US ask Pak to act on terror

New Delhi/Beijing: India and the US have called on Pakistan to take “immediate, sustained and irreversible action” to ensure that Pakistani territory isn’t used for terror attacks and to speedily bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot attacks.

The two countries also underscored the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaida, Islamic State, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), and Hizbul Mujahideen.

These issues figured in the 17th meeting of the US-India joint working group on counterterrorism and the third session of the designations dialogue held virtually during September 9-10, according a joint statement.

Both sides denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms. They also exchanged views on threats posed by UN-sanctioned terrorist entities, the statement said.

“The two sides underlined the urgent need for Pakistan to take immediate, sustained, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot,” the statement said.

The 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were carried out by a 10-member team of the LeT from Pakistan, left 166 people dead, including six US nationals. Pakistani security agencies arrested seven men, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, for allegedly planning, financing and supporting the attacks but there has been little progress in their trial in a counterterrorism court.

The 2016 Pathankot attack, blamed on JeM, targeted an Indian Air Force base and resulted in the death of seven Indian troops.

During the dialogue, India and the US also shared information about their priorities and procedures for pursuing sanctions and designations against terror groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India, the statement said.

There was a joint commitment to strengthen cooperation on information-sharing and other steps to disrupt the ability of international terrorists to travel, in line with the provisions and obligations outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2396.

Officials of the two sides highlighted their efforts to address some of the world’s most pressing counterterrorism challenges, including countering the financing and operations of terrorist organisations, countering radicalisation and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists, and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members.

The two sides also discussed mutual legal and extradition assistance, and bilateral law enforcement training and cooperation.

The US reiterated its support for the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism.

Mahaveer Singhvi, joint secretary for counterterrorism in the external affairs ministry, and Nathan A Sales, the US state department coordinator for counterterrorism, led the two delegations in what the statements described as a “far-reaching conversation on counterterrorism cooperation”.

The two sides also resolved to continue close coordination on “this important element of the comprehensive global strategic partnership” between India and the US.

China, however, responded to the joint statement by defending Pakistan’s counterterrorism record. It said Pakistan has made “tremendous efforts” in fighting the menace and shouldn’t be singled out as a country linked to terrorism.

Asked to comment on the joint statement, the Chinese foreign ministry noted that Friday is the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.

“All countries should work together to prevent and fight terrorism and safeguard the world’s peace and stability. So, on this very special day, I would like to say that we hope the US won’t forget terrorism and Covid-19 are common enemies to all mankind. And China and Pakistan are not the enemies of the US,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a regular news briefing.

“Terrorism is a common challenge faced by all countries. And Pakistan has made tremendous efforts and sacrificed in fighting terrorism. The international community should fully recognise and respect that,” he added.

“China opposes all kinds of terrorism and we believe that the UN should play a leading role and we oppose double standards on counterterrorism. And we oppose the attempt to link terrorism to any specific country,” Zhao said.

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