The US and Britain on Sunday strongly condemned the terrorist strike that killed 17 Indian soldiers at Uri in Kashmir and said they would work with India to fight terror.
The official reactions from both countries did not name Pakistan or the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which has been blamed by India for the attack. American experts agreed with the Indian assessment of the origin of the attack, if not the reasons for it.
The US statement issued by state department spokesman John Kirby said: “The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir…We extend our condolences to the victims and their families. The United States is committed to our strong partnership with the Indian government to combat terrorism.”
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement that the UK “strongly condemns” the terrorist attack. “I offer my deepest condolences to the victims and their families and friends. The UK condemns all forms of terrorism, and stands shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism, and in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” he added.
The phrase “strong partnership” in the US statement was a reiteration of secretary of state John Kerry remarks at a recent news briefing in New Delhi, where he had said, echoing India, that the US “cannot and will not make distinction between good and bad terrorism”.
The reference was to Pakistan making a distinction between good terrorists – those it uses as an instrument of its state policy such as the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed against India – and bad terrorists, such as the Pakistani Taliban responsible for many attacks on Pakistani soil.
Though the state department did not name Pakistan in its statement, it was clear to experts who was behind the attacks.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA operative and long-time expert on the region, said it was clearly the work of the Pakistan Army. “It has been clear for several months that the Pakistan Army believes the situation in Kashmir is ripe for a re-intensification of the conflict and that India has few credible options to respond.”
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert with the Wilson Center, said while the strike could have been carried out by locals wanting to avenge Indian Army actions, “given how well coordinated the attack was, I think it’s more likely this was planned from across the border”.
Kugelman said it could have been caused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent comments about rights violations in Balochistan, the restive southwestern province of Pakistan.
(With agency inputs)