US urges Pakistan, India to reduce tensions


WASHINGTON: Alarmed by a series of threats and counter-threats between India and Pakistan, the United States has asked the two countries to reduce tensions and resume dialogue.

The tensions followed the Indian army`s controversial June 9 cross-border strike on a militant site in Myanmar which left seven militants dead and a dozen others injured.

`We encourage India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and to move towards resuming talks,` said a US State Department spokesman, Jeff Rathke.

`The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to advancing peace and stability in South Asia, so we welcome any steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce tensions and move towards resuming dialogue,` he said. `We encourage India and Pakistan to take those kinds of steps, and we believe that India and Pakistan have a mutual interest in addressing the threat posed by violent extremism and terrorism.

Asked if the United States had reached out to India or Pakistan to defuse tensions after the Myanmar strike, Mr Rathke said: `We`ve encouraged a reduction of tensions on both sides at high levels, so that`s something we`ve mentioned.

The official, however, declined to say what was the US position on the Indian strike inside Myanmar.

`I don`t have a comment on that specific operation,` said the official when asked if the US supported the strike or was concerned about it.

Soon after the strike, India`s Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore warned that New Delhi could take similar actions against other countries if their territories were used for carrying out militant attacks inside India.

Asked whether India could engage in similar surgical strikes on militant groups inside Pakistan, Mr Rathore said: `This is a message for all countries, including Pakistan, and groups harbouring terror intents towards India. A terrorist is a terrorist and has no other identity. We will strike when we want to.

NGOs: Mr Rathke expressed concern over Pakistan`s crackdown on Save the Children organisation but he also said he was not sure if Washington had raised this issue with officials in Islamabad. `It`s certainly a matter of concern to us,` he said.

Earlier, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said that Pakistan`s crackdown on international NGOs `has had a significant negative impact on international partners` efforts to support government of Pakistan`s priorities.

Published in Dawn