Rice phones Doval to put US support behind India, warns Pak on terror

WASHINGTON (TIP): The Obama administration on Sept 28 affirmed its support to New Delhi on the issue of cross-border terrorism ahead of India’s surgical strike inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir, while putting Islamabad on notice for its failure to act against UN-designated terrorists and entities.

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice spoke to her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval to offer condolences to families of the Uri attack victims and express support for India on the issue of terrorism, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a read-out on the call. The call was initiated by Washington and took place before the Indian strike beyond the Line of Control.

Although the statement did not explicitly pin the Uri attack on Pakistan, there was a broad censure of Islamabad for continuing to harbor proscribe terrorists and terrorist outfits, with a pledge that Washington would “deepen collaboration on counter-terrorism matters including on UN terrorist designations.”

“Highlighting the danger that cross-border terrorism poses to the region, Ambassador Rice reiterated our expectation that Pakistan take effective action to combat and delegitimize United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates,” the statement said, in an unequivocal recognition of the Indian position that state-backed terrorist proxies have a free run in Pakistan. India has blamed Jaish operatives for the Uri attack, and has more recently identified the attackers and the camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir they came from.

The US statement came amid recrimination from some Indian commentators that the Obama administration was hedging on backing India fully and was not putting pressure on Pakistan after the Uri attack. Although Secretary of State John Kerry gave Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif an earful at the UN General Assembly last week, some analysts and retired Indian officials selectively highlighted pabulum in the statement to suggest that New Delhi had taken false comfort about US support, and everything was hunky-dory in Islamabad’s ties with Washington.

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The US statement on the Rice-Doval call leaves no doubt where Washington stands on the latest developments in the region, with none of the comforting crumbs that lower level US officials throw out for Pakistanis to feast on, such as recognizing Pakistan’s progress in the war on terror, commiserating with its claim that it is a victim etc.

“There are no nuances here. The message to Pakistan is very clear,” a senior Indian diplomat said, as New Delhi stepped up international pressure on Islamabad.

In fact, the Rice-Doval phone conversation, coming after New Delhi’s call to torpedo the SAARC meet, virtually endorses India’s decision to scupper the summit, without the salutary advice that the State Department invariably essays about the need for dialogue. (PTI)

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