It is very much in the interest of India and US to continue to engage with Pakistan, even if Islamabad has not taken enough steps to meet the demands of New Delhi with regard to those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks, a Obama administration official has said.
"It is very much in our interest and it is very much in the interest of India to continue to engage Pakistan," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said responding to a question on the status of US-Pak and Indo-Pak relationship.
Blake, who addressed an event jointly organised by the East West Center and the India US World Affairs ahead of the second Indo-US Strategic Dialogue to be held in New Delhi next week said, "Even the Indian would say that this is something that they should do. I do not want to speak for the Indian Government of course, but I do believe that they have made a decision which is important for them also to engage Pakistan".
"Let's remember that Pakistan has not fully met all the conditions that India had established for trying to get relationship in a better place. They (Pakistan) have not in fact finished the trial of the Mumbai suspects. They have not dismantled a lot of the (terrorist training) camps that still exists and yet India has made the decision .. the correct decision that is to engage Pakistan," said the US official, who is Obama Administration's point man for South and Central Asia.
As a result of this decision taken by New Delhi there has been quite progress in recent months in terms of dialogue between the two countries, Blake said as he referred to the series of secretary level talks between India and Pakistan in recent months. "It's beginning. I do not want to overstate this. But I do believe that it is important for that to continue," he said.
"Pakistan faces innumerable challenges now, between economic situation, widespread energy and electricity shortages, the security challenges that it faces, has suffered more than any other country in terms of terrorism," he said.
"Do we want Pakistan to do more? Certainly. But I would say also that, it is in very much in our interest to work with them," Blake said.
"I will steer your way away from emphasising too much on our military co-operation. If anything has changed under (the US) President (Barack) Obama has been our efforts to expand our civilian assistance under the famous Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation," he said.
"I think, we have made a sincere and concerted effort to do that. We will continue to do that. It is also in our very much interest to help Pakistan and give them the resources to fight counter insurgency war which we very much want them to do in the Frontier areas with Afghanistan," he said.
"As you all know, they have been very much focused all these years on war against India and not against these kind of counter-insurgency challenges. So we need to give them the training, we need to give them the equipment to be able to fight that kind of war," Blake said.