Pakistan “can and must” take more effective action against terror groups operating from its soil as no state should allow its territory to be used to launch attacks into another, the White House said.
“While recognising the sacrifices of the people and the security forces of Pakistan in fighting some militant and terrorist networks -- a fight which we support -- President Barack Obama has emphasised that Pakistan “can and must” also take more effective action against terrorist groups operating from its soil,” a senior White House official said on Friday.
“The President has made it very clear that no state should allow its territory to be used by terrorists to launch attacks into another state, and we will continue to engage on this issue,” he said in response to the ‘We the People’ online petition that was signed by a record 665,769 people.
The petition asked the Obama administration to declare Pakistan as a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’, according to a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives by two Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher.
“Since the bill cited by the petition remains in draft, we will not comment on it here,” he added.
The State Department has also refused to comment on the bill.
“I am not going to get into a discussion about that. We routinely discuss with our Pakistani counterparts the importance for continued focus and energy on the counter- terrorism efforts and the terrorism threat, particularly along that spine between the two countries.
“Our focus on this and the focus that we want to see Pakistan expend on it, that is not going to change,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby said.
The State Department, he said, has seen comments made by the incoming administration on counter-terrorism.
“I have seen some comments that they have made about a counter-terrorism focus. That is for them to address.
“Nothing changes about our focus on the importance of regional, collaborative and effective counter-terrorism operations and to our interest in seeing all the countries in the region likewise expend a great deal of energy and effort and leadership on that. I just cannot speculate about the future and I would not do that,” Kirby added.
On ties with India, he said that India is and will remain a key partner to America.
“We greatly value and respect the relationship we have with India today and the one that we have worked very, very hard at improving and strengthening,” Kirby said, adding that it was a relationship that the Obama administration would remain focused on until the remainder of its tenure. He made these comments on Friday as he welcomed Indian ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna
The State Department spokesperson also said that the strong bilateral relations between the two countries will need to continue. “What happens after the inauguration of our new president is really for the new administration to speak to. But what it looks like, the form and content and shape, I could not possibly predict what that is,” he said.