Donald Trump promises united front against terrorism
President Donald Trump received some of the loudest cheers during his speech at the ‘Namaste Trump’ rally here on Monday when he referred to the joint commitment of the US and India to protect their citizens from “radical Islamic terrorism” and said his administration was working with Pakistan to root out terror in that country.
In an apparent acknowledgment of Washington’s dependence on Islamabad for swinging a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Trump hastened to add that the US has a “very good” relationship with Pakistan and was “beginning to see signs of big progress” in the efforts to crackdown on terror groups and militants based on the Pakistani soil.
He also emphasised what he described as his administration’s efforts to kill Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and destroy the group in Iraq and Syria, though experts now believe the organisation has started regrouping in these countries.
Counterterror cooperation between India and the US has increased under the leadership of Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The US offered unstinted support to India after the 2019 terror attack in Pulwama by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) that killed 40 troopers and in the subsequent listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar by the UN Security Council as a global terrorist.
“The US and India are also firmly united in the ironclad resolve to defend [their] citizens from the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Both of our countries have been hurt by the pain and turmoil of terrorism, and that terrorism brings,” Trump said.
“The US and India are committed to working together to stop terrorists and to fight their ideology. With this reason...my administration is working in a very positive way with Pakistan to crackdown on the terrorist organisations and militants that operate on the Pakistani border.”
Without making any pitch to help mediate between India and Pakistan, as he has in recent months, Trump said the US hoped all of the steps it has taken will reduce tensions and lead to more stability in South Asia.
“Our relationship with Pakistan is a very good one and thanks to these efforts, we are beginning to see signs of big progress with Pakistan. And we are hopeful of reduced tension and greater stability and future harmony for all the nations of South Asia,” he said.
Though a Pakistani court recently gave a five-and-a-half year jail term to Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases, the Indian government has remained sceptical as the ruling came four days ahead of a key meeting of the Financial Action Task Force that assessed Pakistan’s steps to counter fund-raising by terrorist groups. Trump had suspended security aid worth more than $2 billion for Pakistan in 2018 after accusing the country of giving nothing but “lies and deceit” for such assistance. But the US recently resumed a key military training programme for Pakistan.
Without referring to Afghanistan, Trump spoke of India having an “important leadership role to play” as it takes on the “responsibility of solving problems and promoting peace” in the region.
He also explained his administration’s travel ban and efforts to secure US borders as part of measures to counter terrorism. The US, he said, will “always welcome newcomers who share our values and love our people” while the borders “will always be closed to terrorists...and any form of extremism”.
Trump said this is why the US is screening and vetting applications for entry and ensuring that anyone who threatens American citizens is “denied admission and will pay a very, very big costly price”.