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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

US condemns Kashmir attack, tells Pakistan to end ‘safe haven’ to terrorists

Holding Pakistan responsible for the attack, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement that the US “condemns in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attack by a Pakistan-based terrorist group”.

world Updated: Feb 15, 2019 10:31 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicle damaged during Improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Awantipora, Pulwama near Srinagar on Thursday.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicle damaged during Improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Awantipora, Pulwama near Srinagar on Thursday.(ANI photo)
         

The US on Thursday called on Pakistan to “end immediately” its support of terrorist groups operating from its soil in the aftermath of the suicide attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed at least 44 CRPF personnel.

Holding Pakistan responsible for the attack, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement that the US “condemns in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attack by a Pakistan-based terrorist group”.

“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,” Sanders said.

“This attack only strengthens our resolve to bolster counterterrorism cooperation and coordination between the United States and India.”

Also read: CRPF jawans killed in Pulwama terror attack were returning from leave

The White House did not specify the consequences but the Trump administration has suspended nearly $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan already on account of its dubious counter-terrorism efforts already and could follow up with more.

In a similar message earlier, the US state department called on United Nations’ member countries to deny safe haven and support for terrorists as it condemned in the “strongest terms” the killing of the Central Police Reserve Force’s personnel in Pulwama.

That was seen as an appeal addressed to Pakistan and China, a host of the outfit and a protector of its founder Masood Azhar from UN designation respectively.

JeM was designated a terrorist organisation by a 15-member body set up by the UN Security Council in 2001, but a move to also name Azhar, its founder and leader, a designated terrorist has been repeatedly blocked by China, which has demanded proof he is currently a member of the group.

Beijing has blocked at least three attempts to designate Azhar in recent years — separately first by India; then jointly by the US, United Kingdom and France and the third by the United States alone.

The US “condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack today”, Robert Palladino, a deputy spokesperson for the US state department, said in a statement.

Also read: 44 CRPF jawans killed in worst terror attack in Kashmir, India slams Pakistan

“The UN designated, Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad has claimed responsibility for this heinous act,” Palladino said. “We call on all countries to uphold their responsibilities pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions to deny safe haven and support for terrorists,” he said.

Implicit in that statement was a call to Pakistan and China, though not by name but the two UN member countries linked to JeM — one is a host and the other is a steadfast protector. — to “uphold” their responsibilities as members of the world body.

The US statement was in line with the one put out by India’s ministry of external affairs which had also described JeM as a UN-designated terrorist organisation and had urged UN member countries to support the move to designate Azhar, in opposition to attempts by China, not named, to protect him.

The ISIS (Da’ish — Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and al Qaeda Sanctions committee, also called the UN 1267 Committee after the Security Council resolution constituting it, listed JeM way back in 2001 describing it as an outfit which is “based in Peshawar and Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, but (whose) members conduct terrorist activities primarily in Kashmir”.

The committee must vote unanimously to approve a designation. And China was the holdout vote in all three attempts to designate Azhar, going against all of the remaining 14.

Its excuse has ranged from “lack of consensus (on account of its own intransigence)” to describing it as a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve outside the committee to requiring proof Azhar continues to be a member of the group which he is said to have claimed to have left now.

The US has felt frustrated by continued Chinese resistance to the designation but, officials have said, but not to the point of giving up. And a response was awaited from the state department to a question if the US had considered launching another attempt.

Tom Rogan, a columnist with conservative news publication Washington Examiner, a supporter of President Donald Trump, urged the administration in a piece to press ahead.

Also read: ‘Despicable act’, says India, asks UN to brand JeM’s Masood Azhar a terrorist

“The Trump administration should force China to do so again,” he wrote. “While China’s defense of Azhar is blatantly immoral, it reflects (President) Xi Jinping’s transactional approach to international relations. Xi happily keeps more than a million of his own moderate-Muslim citizens in concentration camps while simultaneously defending an Islamic terrorist,” he said.

Rogan was referring to the incarceration and indoctrination of Muslims in China in prison facilities that have drawn comparisons to the concentration camps run by European Nazis.

The attack was also condemned separately, and individually, by a large number of US lawmakers from both parties a re-affirmation of the resolve of the two nations to combat terrorism.

“Tragic news out of Jammu & Kashmir, India today where a brutal terrorist attack took innocent lives. I strongly condemn this cowardly act and send my deepest condolences to the loved ones of the #KashmirTerrorAttack victims,” Pete Olson, a member of the House of Representatives from Texas wrote on Twitter.

Will Hurd, also a congressman Texas and a former CIA official who had served in India, wrote, “I stand with @USAmbIndia and @rashtrapatibhvn in condemning the horrible #KashmirTerrorAttack on CRPF personnel. I spent part of my CIA career in India working to stop terrorist organizations and will continue to do so in Congress in solidarity with our allies across the globe.”

By the end of the day on Thursday, more than 40 Congresspersons had condemned the attack in an unprecedented response to a terrorist strike in India.

First Published: Feb 15, 2019 09:52 IST

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