Asking Pakistan to clamp down on extremist groups inside its territory, a top US lawmaker has cautioned Islamabad that India would not sit idly if its soldiers or citizens were being attacked. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told PTI that the situation on the Indo-Pak border has been volatile for the past few months due to activities by Pakistan-backed militant groups, and called on the Trump administration to put more pressure on the country.
“(They) are backed by Pakistan. They (Trump administration) need to be more towards putting the pressure on Pakistan to go after LeT and other militant groups within Pakistan that are causing tensions on the India-Pakistan border,” he said in response to a question.
“I think the emphasis here is that they (Pakistan) need to do more to clamp down on those violent and extremist groups within Pakistan themselves, because India will not sit by idly while it’s soldiers or it’s citizens are being attacked,” said Crowley, a former co-Chair of the House India Caucus.
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The Congressman said these issues should be handled in a bilateral manner by the two countries. “But I do think there’s a role that the United States can play as both a friend to India and Pakistan to put the pressure on our friends to find a way forward to help keep peace in the region and to bring about reconciliation,” the Democratic lawmaker from New York said.
Crowley also hoped that the Trump administration would take inputs from India on its Afghanistan policy, which is believed to be in its last stages of being finalised. “I would certainly hope that the President and the State Department take into consideration the opinion of the Indian government. The Indian people and its government have sustained terrorist attack after terrorist attack,” he said.
He said that the historical ties between the Afghan people and Indian people are important things to consider in terms of creating a doctrine, which has been lacking.
“I don’t know of a doctrine from the Trump administration as pertained to the entire region, let alone Afghanistan. Or what it’s doctrine is towards India or toward Pakistan…so I do hope that whatever is formulated, is articulated and understood by the members of the Congress, like myself, who care about that part of the world,” he said.
Such a doctrine, he said, needs to promotes peace and reconciliation in the region while also continuing to fight in a mutual front against terrorism. “And that includes acts committed against India by fundamentalists working inside Pakistan,” Crowley said.
“When we do work towards a solution in Afghanistan, it (should) incorporate the Indian government as well as the Pakistani government in terms of helping formulate and foster a long-term commitment to peace and reconciliation within the area,” he said.
Crowley hoped there would be an India-specific doctrine in place before the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump. Observing that Indo-US relationship has been bipartisan in the past, he hoped that this would continue to be the case under the Trump administration as well.