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A message to Pak: Kerry joins Swaraj in saying there’s no good or bad terrorist

india Updated: Aug 31, 2016 08:29 IST
Jayanth Jacob
India-US annual strategic and commercial dialogue

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj interacts with US secretary of state John Kerry during a joint news conference in New Delhi.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

India and the US tried on Tuesday to put Pakistan in the docks for harbouring extremists and making a distinction between good and bad terrorists.

Also, the two countries decided to set up a trilateral dialogue on Afghanistan — another irksome development for Pakistan — as they stepped up their counter-terrorism cooperation by expanding intelligence-sharing about known or suspected extremists and terrorist threats.

The decision was taken at the India-US annual strategic and commercial dialogue in the national capital.

“I am happy to note that there was a meeting of minds on this issue (of terrorism),” foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said at the joint press conference after her meeting with US secretary of state John Kerry.

“We agreed that nations must not maintain double standards, such as the categorisation of good and bad terrorists, nor act as sanctuaries and safe havens for terrorist organisations,” she said.

Kerry echoed Swaraj’s views, saying the US “stands with India against all terrorism , no matter where it comes from”.

He said he had spoken to the Pakistan leadership about the need for Islamabad to “deprive any (terrorist) group of sanctuary”.

His remarks came at a time bitter neighbours Pakistan and India are locked in hostile rhetoric over public protests in Jammu and Kashmir over the killing of a militant leader on July 8. The unrest has claimed 70 lives and wounded hundreds of people. Pakistan has called the militant a martyr to ratchet up anti-India sentiments.

Kerry named the Haqqani network that operates in Afghanistan as well as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008.

He backed Sushma’s demand for bringing to book those behind the Mumbai attacks and this year’s terrorist strike on the Pathankot airbase.

“It is vital that Pakistan join with other nations in tackling this challenge, and in fairness, in recent weeks and months they have been moving more authoritatively,” Kerry said.

The enhanced Indo-US counter-terrorism cooperation will include expanding exchange of screening information and speeding up processing of requests from both nations for information about terrorist suspects.

“We will intensify intelligence-sharing and continue to work closely to get terrorist entities listed by the UN system,” Sushma said.

The two countries also concluded an over-arching cyber security agreement.