Pakistan’s continuous support to terror groups, ‘chief obstacle’ in dialogue with India: US

Islamabad’s continuous support to extremist groups that engage in cross-border terrorism remains the chief obstacle to talks with India, the United States said on Tuesday while asserting that it supports a direct dialogue between India and Pakistan as outlined in the Shimla Agreement.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells said, “we believe that direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, as outlined in the 1972 Shimla Agreement, holds the most potential for reducing tensions.”

Wells’ comments were made to the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington.

During 2006-2007 backchannel negotiations, India and Pakistan made significant progress on a number of issues which also includes Kashmir, she said.

“Restarting a productive bilateral dialogue requires building trust, and the chief obstacle remains Pakistan’s continued support for extremist groups that engage in cross-border terrorism,” Wells said. “Pakistan’s harbouring of terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which seek to foment violence across the Line of Control, is destabilising, and Pakistani authorities remain accountable for their actions,” she said in what can be seen as a warning to Pakistan.

“We believe the foundation of any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists in its territory,” Wells said.

Both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have met and spoken with their Indian and Pakistani counterparts’ multiple times to encourage dialogue, she said.