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India and Pakistan in a ‘very delicate balance’, says Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump on Friday said relations between India and Pakistan were in a “very delicate balance” and called for an end to killings in Kashmir.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2019 21:39 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald trump,Pulwama terror attack,world news
US President Donald Trump.(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)

The day after the UN security council passed a “pathbreaking” statement condemning the Pulwama terrorist attack, US president Donald Trump on Friday said relations between India and Pakistan were in a “very delicate balance” and called for an end to killings in Kashmir.

“A lot of people were just killed and we want to see it stopped,” the US president said to reporters before a meeting with a visiting Chinese delegation for trade talks. “We’re very much involved in that.”

The United States joined other P-5 countries to push the UNSC press statement, overcoming stiff resistance from China, that for the first time condemned violence in Jammu and Kashmir, appealed to other countries to support the Indian government on Kashmir-related violence and treated an attack on Indian forces as part of global terrorism. India is not on the council now.

The United States is also expected to join a new France-led effort to designate Masood Azhar, the founder of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed that has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama killings, as a global terrorist under UNSC resolution 1267. This will be the fourth such attempt, when moved formally and is expected to run into problems with China, which foiled all the previous efforts.

President Trump went to say that because of the killings there is a “terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India” and described relations between the two countries as being in a “very, very bad situation, … very dangerous (and) … very delicate balance going on right now”.

Also read | ‘Very, very bad situation between India and Pakistan’: Trump on Pulwama attack

Asked about a mounting call in India for retaliatory action as a matter of “self defense”, the American leader said, “India is looking at something very strong. And, I mean, India just lost almost 50 people and -- with an attack, so I can understand that also.”

This issue came up during a phone conversation between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval with his American counterpart John Bolton, who acknowledged India’s right to self-defense. “We support India’s right to self-defense,” Bolton said to reporters as he broke news about the phone call.

In the same call, Bolton also assured India of US help to designate Azhar. Two of three foiled attempts were led by the Americans, one was a solo effort and the other was with France and the United Kingdom. The three countries are joining hands again for the new push, with the French in the lead.

In response to a question about his decision to stop security aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terrorism, the president said, “Pakistan was very taking very strong advantage of the United States under other Presidents and we were paying Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. I ended that payment to Pakistan because they weren’t helping us in a way that they should have”

But, he added, things have improved since. “And honestly, we’ve had -- we’ve developed a much better relationship with Pakistan over the last short period of time than we had. But I did; I ended the payment.”

Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts remain suspect. And it was named in most statements issued by the United States on Pulwama. Condemning the attack in the “strongest terms” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders had said in a statement, “The United States calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the region.”

Also read | ‘Get Trump alone’: Kim Jong Un’s game plan ahead of Vietnam summit

First Published: Feb 23, 2019 21:39 IST