The unprecedented move by the US to initiate action to revoke the citizenship of a Pakistani- American involved in terrorism in Kashmir shows the Trump administration’s “strong desire” to go an extra mile to boost counter-terrorism cooperation with India, sources here said. The sources said the process to revoke the US citizenship of Iyman Faris ahead of the US visit of India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is a strong indication that India can play a key role in addressing the challenge of terrorism in South Asia.
Doval arrived in the US today on a four-day visit to hold a series of meetings with the top Trump administration officials, including US Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster.
In addition to bilateral security issues, officials of the Trump administration are gearing to discuss with Doval on the situation in the region, in particular Afghanistan and Pakistan and the dangerous growth of the Islamic State terror group in South Asia.
By approaching a federal court over the citizenship of Faris, who was naturalised in 1999 and currently serving 20 years sentence for his role in conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda in 2003, the Trump Administration is trying to send a clear signal to India that it intends to go an extra mile when it comes to counter-terrorism cooperation with India, sources said.
The new national security establishment here sees in Doval as someone who has firsthand information and experience of dealing with terrorism in South Asia. Officials here feel that India can play a key role in addressing the challenge of terrorism in South Asia – from Afghanistan to Bangladesh.
This is expected to be one of the key issues of discussion during Doval’s latest trip to Washington DC with his meetings being planned at the White House, State Department and Pentagon. If his citizenship is revoked, Faris might be subject to deportation to Pakistan once he serves his sentence. Faris, federal prosecutors have said was involved in terrorism-related activities in Kashmir in 1980s.
With President Trump putting his time and energy on defeating the ISIS in the Middle East and Pakistan having been proven to be an unreliable ally, officials here feel that it is time that India can be roped in to play a decisive role in this fight against terrorism, at least in South Asia.
Doval’s visit to the US comes on the heels of a trip by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar early this month wherein he met Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He also met Trump’s National Security Advisor in addition to meeting top Congressional leaders at the Capitol.
Through all these meetings, the Trump administration has sent a strong signal of its desire to not only maintain the momentum of the India-US relationship which has seen an upward trajectory for nearly decade and a half, but also to accelerate the process, sources said.
After being elected last November, Trump has spoken with Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice over phone. Trump has invited Modi to the White House for talks this year. A formal date has not been announced yet.