Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot “pursue peace” with Pakistan in a way that “cuts his own security”, a top Trump administration official has said, asserting that it is in the interest of Islamabad to build confidence with New Delhi to restart commercial ties. Ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s maiden visit to India and Pakistan next week, the official, with an insight into the administration’s policy over South Asia, was responding to questions on what India could do to bring peace and stability in the region, in particular with Pakistan. “It’s clear to everyone that Prime Minister Modi wants peace in the region, but he can’t pursue peace (with Pakistan) in a way that cuts against his own security. So that (having peace talks with Pakistan) is up to his judgement,” the official, requesting anonymity, told PTI yesterday.
“We want India and Pakistan to talk. We think that is so important for them to talk and to build confidence and to get on a path to regional security and stability which we know would bring both countries to unprecedented levels of prosperity,” he said. Noting that South Asia and the bridge in central Asia is one of the least economically integrated areas of the world, he said that there is tremendous potential to be unleashed. “And what we hope is that the dialogue, continued dialogue, continued efforts to generate a higher degree of understanding to convince those in Pakistan, including the Pakistani army, that it is really in their interest to build confidence to open commerce and to achieve the kind of peace that would lead to prosperity,” the official said. After a series of setbacks India received from Pakistan, including the one after the Pathankot terror attack, the Indian government has decided not to talk with Pakistan unless it stops supporting terrorists against it, he said.
India’s policy now is “talks and terror” cannot go together, as was articulated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Parliament, which has been repeated several times since then, the official said. “I think India has to make its own judgement on that. And India will be the best judge. Certainly, President Trump has great respect for Prime Minister Modi and his wisdom, and leadership ability,” the official added.