India's Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla was responding to a question on the strong cooperation between India and the US on security issues as well as in multinational fora such as the UN that saw the designation of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in May this year.
President Donald Trump has “walked the talk” in maintaining pressure on Pakistan to end terrorism emanating from its soil, India’s envoy to the US has said, insisting that Islamabad’s actions against terror outfits should be “irreversible” and not a “revolving door” where terror masterminds are arrested from one door and taken out through the other.
India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla was responding to a question on the strong cooperation between India and the US on security issues as well as in multinational fora such as the UN that saw the designation of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in May this year.
“I have to say that President Trump has done what previous presidents have not done. He has walked the talk, as I have said before. He has ensured that financing for Pakistan has been withdrawn because of its association with terrorism. He has withdrawn all aid and all military assistance to Pakistan,” Shringla told PTI in an interview here on Monday. He expressed hope that the policy is consistently maintained and it does not get eroded in the light of developments as they unfold.
“It is important that pressure on the Pakistani State is maintained so that we don’t step back into terrorism emanating out of Pakistan,” he said. Referring to the “excellent cooperation” between India and the US in the security and counter-terrorism fronts, he said, “We are partners in making the world a better and safer place, a world that believes in the values, systems and ideologies that we do – democracy, rule of law, vibrant media, independent judiciary. We have the same values and we need to continue to work together.”
India and the US, along with allies France and the UK, worked relentlessly to get Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council, after a decade-long effort during which China repeatedly blocked bids to sanction the JeM chief. Shringla asserted that it is important the US continues to exert pressure on “countries like Pakistan that have made terrorism an instrument of state policy and if there is an intent to change that policy then it should be irreversible.
“Steps taken by Pakistan should be irreversible and its claims should be verifiable, credible and irreversible,” he said. Referring to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and JuD chief Saeed getting pre-arrest bail on Monday by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, Shringla said, “I think in a certain sense it gives us again the idea of a revolving door where you are arrested from one door and taken out through the other.”
He emphasised that the US role is very important in continuing to hold Pakistan accountable on terrorism, ensuring that it does not encourage any support to terrorism from its territories that can affect not just India but the region and the world on the whole. “Afghanistan is very relevant (here) and of course I think you have organisations like the Financial Action Task Force which also need to look at issues of terrorist financing,” he said.
Shringla said that there is also need to look at the fact that a “disproportionate amount” of the spending and resources in Pakistan are devoted really to military expenditure whereas the developmental areas are not receiving the attention they deserve.
Alluding to the USD 6 billion loan package for Pakistan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Shringla said it is important that the US, as a very major player in the IMF, keeps that pressure to ensure that the money is accountable. It must ensure that “Pakistan accounts for that money and does not use the money to settle its debts with other countries” and in programmes that have been unsustainable.
China is investing heavily in Pakistan under the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Launched in 2015, the CPEC is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the past warned that any IMF bailout for Pakistan should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. “You need to tackle all of these issues and the US role there is extremely important,” Shringla said. Saeed was arrested Wednesday on terror financing charges by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Province.
A UN designated terrorist on whom the US has placed a 10 million dollars bounty was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to get pre-arrest bail in terror financing cases registered against him there when he was arrested. After Saeed’s arrest, Trump tweeted, “After a ten year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!”