Kerry flies into Islamabad, firestorm over India-Pakistan tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bids adieu before departing India at the airport in Ahmedabad on Monday.  

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be walking a tough tightrope on terrorism as he begins the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Islamabad, telling officials to crack down on groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, even as he deals with unhappiness over the delay in funding that had been promised to Pakistan.

Mr. Kerry, who landed in Pakistan after his two days visit to India for the Vibrant Gujarat summit, will likely discuss some of India’s concerns expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over anti-India terror groups that continue to operate in Pakistan.

>Speaking to reporters in Gandhinagar on Monday, Mr. Kerry said the United States was “working to strengthen” India’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Last week, the government had reacted sharply when The Hindu had >reported on the U.S. commitment of $532 million under the Kerry Lugar Bill for civilian aid, as also reports of the U.S. certifying Pakistani action against groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Also read: > America in a tangle over aid to Pakistan

The U.S. State department had >denied the government had notified Congress for the aid, but added that the aid could be disbursed through “additional funding”. As a result Pakistani newspapers have criticised India for stalling the funds, adding to already high tensions between India and Pakistan over firing at the LoC.

Officials in Islamabad had said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would bring up what they called “India’s aggression” at the dinner to be hosted for Mr. Kerry on Monday.

Pak NSA blames Modi

Earlier, Pakistan’s National security adviser Sartaj Aziz criticised PM Modi >in an interview to Dawn News, where he said ,“India’s stance has been non-cooperative since the formation of the Modi-government.”

He also accused India of “carrying out attacks” on Pakistan from Afghan soil, but gave no proof or further details to support the allegation.

MEA spokersperson Syed Akbaruddin reacted to the comments sharply, saying “It should be clear the challenge that safe havens pose to peace and security in the region.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Kerry has his task cut out for him, discussing the strategic relationship with Pakistan’s leaders including Army chief General Raheel Sharif, on issues such as security in Afghanistan after the U.S. pullout, and, future civilian and military aid requirements for Pakistan, even as he attempts to send a stern message on action against terror groups based there.

“Part of the secretary’s core message will be to ensure that actions are met with a real and sustained effort to constrain the ability of the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Afghan Taliban, and other militants who pose a threat to regional stability and to direct U.S. interests,” a senior US official was quoted by The New York Times as saying.

Earlier this week, the NYT had also questioned US foreign policy on Pakistan over the report about $532 million aid in an editorial, entitled, “Is Pakistan worth America’s investment?”

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 4:47:59 PM |

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