Washington D.C., [U.S.], Sept. 9 (ANI
): A day after the United States asserted that Pakistan cannot 'pick and choose' which terrorist groups to go after, it continued to maintain pressure on Islamabad urging it to take concerted action against safe havens and terrorist groups, adding that they want to see "more action taken".
This is the third time in the last two days when Washington has reasserted its stand on terrorism vis a vis Pakistan.
Speaking at a press briefing here, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner stated that their discussions with Islamabad continue to focus on the fact, that they're urging the Government of Pakistan to take concerted action against safe havens and terrorist groups that threaten other countries in the region.
When asked that what kind of discussions are going on with Pakistan in regards with Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Lashkar-e Taiba, Toner said that the U.S. continues to maintain that it wants more action taken and it remains a topic of conversation with Islamabad.
Downplaying the notion that U.S.-Pakistan ties are at their "lowest level", he added that their relationship with Pakistan is strong and in their mutual interest, and also in the interest of the region.
"It's not to say it's not sometimes a challenging relationship, but we have a range of issues, including counterterrorism, that we work quite closely with Pakistan on. And we believe, again, our relationship is strong," Toner said.
Asserting that in no way was the U.S. playing a "zero-sum" game, he further said that the government has a robust relationship with India but it also wants to have a strong relationship with Pakistan in the interests of the region.
When asked if the U.S. was trying to play the role of a mediator between the two hostile nations, the spokesperson asserted that their government has always rooted for stronger ties between India and Pakistan, adding that it's clearly in the security interests of the region that both countries work to de-escalate tensions and that they have dialogue.
"And that's something we constantly encourage for just that - or out of just that concern, which is that we don't want to see tensions escalate, spiral out of control, and lead to some kind of incident. Again, it's important for the two countries, the two governments to maintain strong, cordial, and productive relations," Toner said.
Speaking at the 14th Association of South East Asian Nations Summit in Laos yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again lashed out against Pakistan in a veiled attack, stating that the time was ripe to isolate and sanction 'this' instigator (of terrorism).
"One country in our neighbourhood, whose competitive advantage rests solely in producing and exporting terrorism. The time has come to isolate and sanction 'this' instigator. Terrorism is most serious challenge to open & pluralistic societies. Combating it requires collective effort. We need to target not only the terrorists but also their entire supporting ecosystem. Our strongest action should be reserved for those state actors who employ terrorism as an instrument of State Policy," he said.
This was the second attack by the Prime Minister on Islamabad, as at the G20 Summit in China he had maintained that those who sponsor and support terrorism must be isolated and sanctioned, not rewarded.
However, Pakistan responded to Prime Minister Modi's attack, accusing India of 'destabilising' it by financing terrorism and supporting militancy.
"India is a country destabilising Pakistan through its support for militancy," Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria at a weekly briefing.
When asked to comment on the Prime Minister's statement that "one single nation in South Asia is spreading agents of terror in countries of our region", Zakaria said, "India is in fact that single nation".
Referring to an alleged Indian spy arrested in Balochistan, he added that, "Confessional statement by Kulbhushan is open evidence to show which country is involved in subversive activities in Pakistan. The issue will be raised because of its direct links with incidents of terrorism in Pakistan." (ANI