Washington: Indo-Pak relations “remain tense” after the Pathankot terror attack and India’s engagement with Pakistan this year may depend on Islamabad’s willingness to take action against those linked to the incident, US intelligence chief has said.
“Relations between Pakistan and India remain tense despite the resumption of a bilateral dialogue in December,” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
“Following a terrorist attack in early January on Pathankot Air Force base in India, which New Delhi blames on a Pakistani- based group, India’s engagement with Pakistan will probably hinge in 2016 on Islamabad’s willingness to take action against those in Pakistan linked to the attack,” Clapper said during his testimony.
State Department Spokesman John Kirby said he agreed with the assessment of Clapper.
“The Pakistanis have said themselves publicly that they’re not going to discriminate amongst terror groups, and we know that this is a threat they face as well,” he said.
“We want both sides of this to continue the dialogue that has started, understanding that it’s still a tense situation, but we want them to continue the dialogue that they’ve started to try to get at what is a very common challenge to both countries,” he said.
Seven security personnel were killed and several others were injured when six militants stormed the Pathankot base on January 2.
Kirby said it’s important for everybody facing these kinds of threats to take the actions that they need to do to protect their own people and their borders, but also to eliminate this very transnational threat that terrorism is.
“The Pakistanis have taken additional steps in the recent past. Can they do more? Every nation fighting terrorism can obviously do more because it’s still a very real threat out there in many parts of the world. But again, what we want is for India and Pakistan to continue to work together,” Kirby said.
Responding to a question, he said that tension between India and Pakistan has an impact on Afghanistan.
“The tension between India and Pakistan affect – well, obviously, both countries have interest in regional stability and security. And the degree to which Afghanistan is not stable – and we all recognise that Afghanistan is still a dangerous place – obviously, it affects the calculations of India and Pakistan with respect to their own national security concerns. And we recognise that,” Kirby said.
“India has played a helpful role in Afghanistan in the past in terms of mostly a training capacity or a willingness to participate in that, and Pakistan in ways has played a useful role in terms of getting at the cross-border threat there in the border regions,” he said.
“What we want with Afghanistan is the kind of normal bilateral relationship that we have with nations all over the world, that so far it’s been very heavily dependent on the security component. And nobody is arguing that that doesn’t still matter today,” he said.