Sharif visit to US: India renews spotlight on Pakistan’s terror pledge

Sharif Obama

Reacting to Pakistan’s attempt to seek the US’ mediation in the Kashmir issue, which was rejected by Washington, India has underlined its commitment to resolve all issues bilaterally with its estranged neighbour, and put the spotlight on Pakistan’s lacklustre record in combating terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network.  

Pakistan managed to sneak in a reference to the Kashmir issue in the US-Pakistan joint statement which was issued after talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama in Washington on October 22, but its efforts to seek the US mediation were rebuffed, with Washington making it clear that it will only do so if both India and Pakistan want it.

“The two leaders expressed concern over violence along the Line     of Control, and noted their support for confidence-building measures and effective mechanisms that are acceptable to both parties,” said the India-US joint statement.

“The leaders emphasised the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbours aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and    Pakistan regarding terrorism,” said the statement.

Mr Sharif’s grandstanding on the Kashmir issue, part of the larger strategy of internationalising the decades-long dispute, has been deeply resented by India’s diplomatic establishment, which feels such manoeuvres only exacerbate hostility, especially when the relations between the two subcontinental neighbours are seriously strained.

India, however, seized on references to the LeT and Haqqani network in the US-Pakistan joint statement by reminding Islamabad to deliver on its long-standing promises to combat terror, which have been violated countess times. “We hope that they deliver on these commitments,” said Vikas Swarup, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said in New Delhi on October 23.  “It is Pakistan which has chosen terrorism as the instrument of state policy. We hope that this visit    conveys a clear message to Pakistan that the international community is deeply concerned about    its support and sponsorship of terrorists,” the spokesperson stressed.  

The mention of the sale of F-16 jets to Pakistan has raised eyebrows among many in India. “Our reservation to supply of such systems is well known and it needs no reiteration,” Mr Swarup said. India has always expressed concerns about the sale of jets to Pakistan, which is suspected by New Delhi to be used against India.

Underscoring its strong displeasure to the US’ support for raising money for the 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Project in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, the spokesperson said: “Our reservations on the supply of such systems to Pakistan are well-known and need no reiteration. I am told that this matter is still to be discussed in the Congress where many leading figures who understand Pakistan well have already questioned its rationale.”

Mr Sharif’s visit to the US, analysts say, have failed to rejuvenate the flagging relationship, which was clear from the US confronting Pakistan on its track record in tackling terror outfits operating from its territory. Much to the disappointment of Islamabad, a senior US official ruled out any India-like civil nuclear deal with Pakistan, which was touted as the showpiece outcome of Mr Sharif’s Washington visit.

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