India last Friday (23) welcomed a joint pledge by the US and Pakistan to fight militant groups it suspects of attacking Indian targets, but ruled out any third-party mediation over Kashmir.
Although the Indian foreign ministry accused Pakistan of state-sponsored terrorism, New Delhi’s tough rhetoric did not preclude the possible resumption of peace talks derailed by recent tensions.
“India has always desired resolution of all issues with Pakistan bilaterally through dialogue and peaceful means,” Vikas Swarup, spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said.
“It is Pakistan who chose to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy. This visit shows the international community is deeply concerned about its support to, and sponsorship of, terrorism.”
At talks in Washington last Thursday (22), US president Barack Obama and Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif pledged “to promote peace and stability throughout the region and to counter all forms of extremism and terrorism”.
For the first time, Pakistan committed to take “effective action” against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an Islamic militant group based in Pakistan that India blames for an attack by suicide commandos on Mumbai in 2008 where 166 people died.
The joint statement also named, among other groups, the Haqqani Network that Indian and US intelligence believe was responsible for an attack on its embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul in the same year.
“This is the first time that Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network have been specifically mentioned in a US-Pakistan joint statement,” said Swarup. “We would naturally hope that they deliver on these commitments.”
An agreement to revive peace talks between the neighbours – who have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir – was reached between Sharif and prime minister Narendra Modi in Russia in July.
But escalating tensions over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule only in part, derailed plans for the national security advisers of both countries to hold talks on containing terrorism.