Terror talk: India wants Pak reined in, but will Trump antagonise a key US ally?
Several issues – including terrorist infiltration, funding and sanctuaries – will figure in the discussions between Trump and Narendra Modi during the Indian premier’s two-day US visit.Updated: Jun 21, 2017 09:06 IST
India hopes the Donald Trump administration will take a serious view of terrorism in South Asia and put pressure on Pakistan to mend its ways. However, it is unclear which way the new US President and his team will swing in dealing with a country that has always been a key Washington ally.
Several issues – including terrorist infiltration, funding and sanctuaries – will figure in the discussions between Trump and Narendra Modi during the Indian premier’s visit to the US from June 25 to 26.
As Pakistan is America’s frontline state in its fight against terrorism and geopolitical designs for Afghanistan, Washington has hardly ever walked the talk on India-related militancy issues. However, in a speech at the recent Arab-Islamic-US summit, Trump proclaimed India as a victim of terrorism and asked certain countries to ensure that terror groups do not take sanctuary on their soil. “The nations of Europe have endured unspeakable horror, and so did the nations of Africa and South America, India, Russia, China and Australia...” he said.
For India, this meant two things. While Trump did not mention Pakistan, he did ask “every country to ensure that terrorists do not find sanctuary on their lands”. India maintains that Pakistan harbours terrorists, affecting the region’s peace and stability.
Another signal that India views as positive is the Trump administration’s plan to launch an “inter-agency policy review of relations with Pakistan”.
“We are beginning an inter-agency policy review towards Pakistan. This (continuation of US aid to Pakistan) is going to be one of the considerations,” US secretary of state Rex Tillerson told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on the state department’s annual budget proposals last week. The top official made the remarks while responding to a question from Congressman Dana Rohrabache.
“The President has asked the question specifically about our level of support and funding to Pakistan. No decision is to be taken until we complete that policy review,” Tillerson said. But the words that followed expressed the importance that the US places on the Pakistan, its oldest ally in South Asia.
“As you can well understand and appreciate, our relationship with Pakistan touches on some broader issues related to stability in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific region. It is a very complex relationship we have with the government of Pakistan, but your concerns are all well-founded,” he added.