US expects Pakistan will take action against Pathankot attackers

The US expects Pakistan will take actions against the perpetrators of the terror attack on IAF base in Pathankot, a top American official said, hours after Islamabad said it is working on the “leads” provided by India.

“The government of Pakistan has spoken very powerfully to this and it’s certainly our expectation that they’ll treat this exactly the way they’ve said they would,” state department Spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.

Pakistan has said it is working on the “leads” provided by India on this attack.

Describing terrorism as a “shared challenge” in South Asia, the US also asked all countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and bring justice to the perpetrators of the Pathankot terrorist attack.

“We urge all the countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and to bring justice to the perpetrators of this particular attack. I would note that the government of Pakistan, also publicly and privately condemned this recent attack on the Indian air base.

“We have been clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that it must continue to target all militant groups,” Kirby said.

The government of Pakistan has said publicly and privately that it’s not going to discriminate among terrorist groups as part of its counter-terrorism operation, he said.

“So this is a shared challenge that we all face in the region and we in the United States want everybody to treat it as a shared challenge,” Kirby said, adding that the US has strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Punjab’s Pathankot.

“We extend our condolences to all the victims and their families,” he said.

He said the US has for a long time talked about the continued safe haven issues there in between Afghanistan and Pakistan and certainly between India and Pakistan.

“We’re mindful that there remain some safe havens that we obviously want to see cleared out. And we continue to engage with the government of Pakistan to that end. And again, I would point you back to what the government of Pakistan itself has said and acknowledged that it’s not going to discriminate among terrorist groups and it will continue to take the fight,” Kirby said.

The Pakistani government, the Pakistani people very much understand the threat here, Kirby said.

“What we want and what we continue to say we want and will continue to work for is increased cooperation, communication, coordination, increased information-sharing and increased efforts against what we all believe is a shared challenge in the region.

“We want to see the government of Pakistan continue to press the fight against terrorists, all terrorists, and to meet their own expectations that they’re not going to discriminate among groups. They’ve said themselves and our expectation is that they’ll live up to that pledge,” he said.

“We recognise there’s more everybody can do, not just Pakistan but every nation can do because it is a shared challenge and it’s a challenge, as you well know, that doesn’t necessarily observe borders and boundaries. So it’s something that everybody can attack more,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the US is encouraged by the government of Pakistan condemning this attack, and the statement that they’ve made about not discriminating among groups.

“As we’ve said before, this is an issue that, as are so many issues between India and Pakistan and we want to see them work out bilaterally,” Kirby said, adding that normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan remains vital to the security and economic prosperity of the entire region.

“We strongly encourage the governments of both India and Pakistan to remain steadfast in their commitment to a more secure and prosperous future for both our countries and for their region,” Kirby added.

Pakistan on Monday said it is working on the “leads” provided by India on the terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot, according to the Foreign Office.

Extending Pakistan’s deepest condolences to the government and people of India on the “unfortunate terrorist incident” in Pathankot, a statement by the spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs said, “In line with Pakistan’s commitment to effectively counter and eradicate terrorism, the Government is in touch with the Indian government and is working on the leads provided by it.”

The statement, however, did not give details of the “leads” provided by India.

BELOW IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRESS BRIEFING

QUESTION: Two questions. Yes, sir. One, it was then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who went to Pakistan with a message of peace, and it was also Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif then. And he took the bus from India to Pakistan. It was a big step at that time. And when he came back in the bus, India was faced with the Kargil War.

MR KIRBY: Faced with a what?

QUESTION: Kargil War. War.

QUESTION: Kargil War.

MR KIRBY: Kargil War.

QUESTION: That means Pakistan’s General Musharraf attacked India. That was a gift for the Atal Bihari prime minister for the peace message. Now, on Christmas Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took another peace step and went to Pakistan, meet and greet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. When he came back – and again, the message was same from the people of India to the people of Pakistan: message of peace. When he came back, India was faced with the terrorism, terrorists on the border in airbase. So what would – and upcoming meeting January 16 is also now at stake whether India should continue or not. So what do we make this, before my second question?

MR KIRBY: Well, there is an awful lot there. I mean, you saw my statement over the weekend. We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on the airbase in the Indian state of Punjab; and as before, we extend our condolences to all the victims and their families. We remain committed to a strong partnership with the Indian Government to combat terrorism. You and I have talked about that many, many times. We urge all the countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and to bring justice to the perpetrators of this particular attack.

I would note that the Government of Pakistan also publicly and privately condemned this recent attack on the Indian airbase. And we’ve been clear with the highest levels of the Government of Pakistan that it must continue to target all militant groups, and the Government of Pakistan has said publicly and privately that it’s not going to discriminate among terrorist groups as part of its counterterrorism operations.

So I think as I’ve said before, this is a shared challenge that we all face in the region. And we in the United States want everybody to treat it as a shared challenge. And the Government of Pakistan has spoken to this, has spoken very powerfully to this, and it’s certainly our expectation that they’ll do exactly what – they’ll treat this exactly the way they’ve said they will.

QUESTION: Second, the people of Pakistan and the people of India both wants these terrorists – that training centers in Pakistan should be closed down, but the Pakistan Government is not taking any steps. And finally, what – the Indian media has been showing all these terrorism activities line by line and live from Pakistan and into India, this latest attack. And at the same time, Pakistani media has been told by the ISI and the military they will be punished if they show, but they must condemn that India media is just overstating all these attacks. What I’m saying: What is the future? Why U.S. is not taking action or asking Pakistan to stop and close down all these training centers, which they are threatening U.S. and India?

MR KIRBY: Well, we have for a long time talked about the continued safe haven issues there in between Afghanistan and Pakistan and certainly between India and Pakistan. We’re mindful that there are – remain some safe havens that we obviously want to see cleared out. And we continue to engage with the Government of Pakistan to that end. And again, I would point you back to what the Government of Pakistan itself has said and acknowledged, that it’s not going to discriminate among terrorist groups and it will continue to take the fight.

And Pakistan too has suffered from terrorism. Thousands and thousands of Pakistani soldiers have been killed. Thousands of Pakistani citizens – innocent Pakistani citizens – have been killed or injured by terrorist attacks. The Pakistani Government, the Pakistani people very much understand the threat here. And what we want and what we continue to say we want and will continue to work for is increased cooperation, communication, coordination; increased information sharing and increased efforts against what we all believe is a shared challenge in the region.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MR KIRBY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I follow it up?

MR KIRBY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I follow it up?

QUESTION: South China Sea.

QUESTION: Follow-up.

MR KIRBY: I’ll go to you, then I’ll come to you. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you think Pakistan is taking enough steps against terrorist networks which are targeting India, like Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad?

MR KIRBY: Well, what I would tell you is we all recognize this is a fluid threat. It’s one that you could probably never do enough to get at. So we want to see the Government of Pakistan continue to press the fight against terrorists, all terrorists, and to – as I said, to meet their own expectations that they’re not going to discriminate among groups. They’ve said that themselves, and our expectation is that they’ll live up to that pledge. But we recognize there’s more everybody can do – not just Pakistan, but every nation in the region can do – because it is a shared challenge. And it’s a challenge, as you well know, that doesn’t necessarily observe borders and boundaries. So it’s something that everybody can attack more.

QUESTION: You said more every nations to do. What should India do?

MR KIRBY: I’m not going to —

QUESTION: What —

MR KIRBY: Look, I —

QUESTION: In this fight against terrorism, what do you want – expect India to do?

MR KIRBY: I’m not prepared with an agenda list for every nation in the region and what they can do. I think you should speak to Indian authorities about the challenges that they’re facing and their plans to address it. Our role has been and will continue to be one of encouraging regional cooperation and communication to get at what is actually a regional – trans-regional, frankly – threat.

QUESTION: And finally, the kind of statements that have come from India and Pakistan after this Pathankot attack – does this give you comfort, some kind of comfort, that there is not much – enough tension between the two countries after this attack?

MR KIRBY: Well, I mean, certainly we – we’re encouraged by the Government of Pakistan condemning this attack, and again, the statements that they’ve made about not discriminating among groups. But this is – as we’ve said before, this is an issue that – as are so many issues between India, Pakistan – India and Pakistan – we want to see them work out bilaterally.

Okay? Yes.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on that —

MR KIRBY: Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah. Over the weekend, have you been in touch with either India or Pakistan to ensure that talks are on tracks and it – they’re not derailed?

MR KIRBY: Talks are —

QUESTION: Talks between India and Pakistan which have been started afresh last week.

MR KIRBY: I don’t have any discussions to read out to you, but I can tell you the normalization of relations between India and Pakistan remains vital to the security and economic prosperity of the entire region. We strongly encourage the governments of both India and Pakistan to remain steadfast in their commitment to a more secure and prosperous future for both their countries and for the region. So I don’t have any specific discussions to read out to you.

You’ve been patient. Go ahead.

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