India, US call on Pakistan to take immediate and irreversible action against terrorism

India and the US on Tuesday reiterated their call for Pakistan to take irreversible action to ensure its territory isn’t used for terror attacks and to speedily prosecute the perpetrators and planners of the attacks in Mumbai, Uri and Pathankot.

The demand for action by Pakistan to counter terrorism, which figured in a joint statement issued after the 2+2 ministerial dialogue, was similar to calls made by India and the US in recent years. The joint statement also called for “concerted action” against terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Besides China’s aggressive actions across the region and beyond, counter-terrorism was part of the discussions between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh and their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper. Jaishankar told a media interaction after the meeting that the Indian side made it “clear that cross-border terrorism is completely unacceptable”.

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The joint statement noted the ministers had “denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms”, and said: “They emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e- Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.”

The statement added, “The ministers called on 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 and planners of all such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.”

Six American citizens were among the 166 people killed in the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by a 10-member LeT team from Pakistan. The 2016 Uri attack and the Pathankot attack in 2016 were blamed on Pakistan-based JeM.

The joint statement said the two sides are committed to continued exchange of information about sanctions and designations of terror groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India, and countering the financing and operations of terror organisations, countering radicalism and terrorist use of the internet.

People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that India-US counter-terrorism cooperation has made considerable progress with enhanced information-sharing and operational cooperation. The joint working groups on counter-terrorism and designation dialogue meet regularly to enable cooperation in pursuing sanctions and designations of terror groups and individuals, the people said.

The joint statement further said the two sides are committed to countering “cross-border movement of terrorists, and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members”.

While enhancing cooperation in multilateral forums such as the UN, the two sides reaffirmed their support for early adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen global cooperation.

The ongoing Afghan peace process also figured in the 2+2 meeting, with the joint statement saying the ministers had discussed their “shared interest in promoting a sovereign, peaceful, united, democratic, inclusive, stable and secure Afghanistan, including support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”.

The US side “applauded India’s development assistance and efforts to build trade linkages and multi-modal connectivity infrastructure for Afghanistan to enhance its regional connectivity to sustain growth and development”.

Jaishankar told the media interaction: “On Afghanistan, India’s stakes in its security and stability are evident, as is our willingness to contribute to international efforts to that end.” Pompeo said the “US values India as a multilateral partner, whether it’s through the Quad [or] making the Afghan peace negotiations successful…”

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