US President Barack Obama told Pakistan on Sunday that it “can and must” take more effective action against terrorist groups operating from its soil by “delegitimising, disrupting and dismantling” terror networks there.
Describing the terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot as “another example of the inexcusable terrorism that India has endured for too long”, Obama gave credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reaching out to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif after the attack.
“Both leaders are advancing a dialogue on how to confront violent extremism and terrorism across the region,” Obama told PTI in an interview in Washington during which he answered a wide range of questions covering Indo-US ties, terrorism and outcome of the Paris climate change summit.
Voicing his belief that the Indo-US relationship can be one of the defining partnerships of the century, Obama said that Modi shared his enthusiasm for a strong partnership and “we have developed a friendship and close working relationship, including our conversations on the new secure lines between our offices”.
Asked if the relationship has achieved its full potential, the President replied, “Absolutely not.”
On the Pathankot attack, Obama said, “We join India in condemning the attack, saluting the Indians who fought to prevent more loss of life and extending our condolences to the victims and their families.
“Tragedies like this also underscore why the US and India continue to be such close partners in fighting terrorism.”
Obama was of the view that Sharif recognised that insecurity in Pakistan is a threat to its own stability and that of the region. After the December, 2014 school massacre in Peshawar he had vowed to target all militants, regardless of their agenda or affiliation.
“That is the right policy. Since then, we have seen Pakistan take action against several specific groups. We have also seen continued terrorism inside Pakistan such as the recent attack on the university in north west Pakistan.”
The President said that he still believed that “Pakistan can and must” take more effective action against terrorist groups that operate from its territory.
“Pakistan has an opportunity to show that it is serious about delegitimising, disrupting and dismantling terrorist networks. In the region and around the world, there must be zero tolerance for safe havens and terrorists must be brought to justice,” he asserted in this third interview to PTI.
“Our vision recognises that the Indian Ocean is vital to the security of the region and the global economy. And it welcomes India’s determination to ‘Act East’ with stronger security and economic partnerships across the region,” the US President said.
He was replying to a question as to what role he sees for India in the emerging security situation in the Asia Pacific given what is happening and the nuclear tests by North Korea.
“We have elevated our trilateral cooperation with Japan, including on disaster response and humanitarian assistance. And we very much welcome India’s increased ties with the region.
“It’s clear that India can be an anchor of stability and security in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region, and the United States looks forward to the work we can do together,” Obama said.
He said “we continue to expand our military exercises and maritime cooperation so that our forces become inter operable. We are increasing our defence trade, and we’re collaborating more closely to jointly develop defence technologies.”
Obama said as President he has worked to renew American leadership in the Asia Pacific because the security and prosperity of the region is critical to its own and that of the world.
“I am proud that, even as we continue to meet pressing challenges elsewhere in the world, we’ve rebalanced our foreign policy and are now playing a larger role in the region.”
Obama said the US has strengthened alliances, modernised its defence posture, worked to build constructive relationship with China, helped strengthened regional institutions like ASEAN and East Asia Summit and expanded cooperation with emerging powers including India.