US lawmakers condemn Pathankot, Mazar-e-Sharif attacks

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jan 08, 2016 21:50 IST
Commando stand guard at Indian Air Force base during search operation after completion of terrorist combing operation in Pathankot. (Sameer Sehgal/HT Photo)

A string of US lawmakers have condemned recent terrorist attacks on Indian facilities in Pathankot and Mazar-e-Sharif, sending, according to observers, a strong signal to Pakistan.

Not all of them mentioned Pakistan in their statements, but the condemnations, even from lawmakers not known to have had much to do with India, were said to be noteworthy.

The new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, has not had much say or do with India in the past, yet he was among the first to condemn the attacks.

“Our hearts are with the people of India following the senseless #Pathankot attacks. We stand with you in confronting & defeating terrorism,” Ryan, a Republican, tweeted.

His Number 2 in the House, Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, went a step further by calling India an “ally”: “Praying for the Indian soldiers killed in the #Panthankot attacks. America will continue to stand with our ally #India to fight terrorism.”

Neither mentioned Pakistan, and the Obama administration has refused to question Islamabad’s commitment to fighting terror without differentiating “good terrorists” from “bad terrorists”.

Islamabad is known to treat anti-India terrorists, such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, said to have carried out the Pathankot and Mazar attacks, as “good” and those that target Pakistan as ‘bad”.

This issue comes up often in US Congress, especially during hearings, and some lawmakers have expressed growing frustration with Pakistan’s perceived lack of action and intent.

“This week’s deadly terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase is a reminder that our ally India faces the same threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Republican House member Ted Poe said.

“Unfortunately, India’s neighbour Pakistan has provided safe haven to terrorists for years, from shielding Osama bin Laden to backing covert terrorist operations around the world. It is being reported that members of the Pakistani military may have provided training and assistance to the jihadists who attacked India this week.”

Other lawmakers who issued statements or tweeted support for India included Democrats Ami Bera, the Indian-American member of the House who is co-chair of the India caucus, Eliot Engel, ranking member of the House foreign affairs committee, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer, Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu member of the House, and Grace Meng.

The Republicans included McCarthy and Poe, Ed Royce, chairman of the powerful House foreign affairs committee, and Pete Sessions.

A congressional source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the condemnations and expressions of support may seem routine, but they contained a message, a signal.

“Look at the number of members that called India an ally,” he said.

Republicans McCarthy and Sessions and Democrat Meng also used the term “friend”, as did Poe.

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