Stepping up pressure on Pakistan, the US has asked Islamabad to take “sustained and irreversible” actions against terrorist groups operating from its territory to prevent future attacks and promote regional stability.
The State Department statement came as Pakistan, under global pressure after the Pulwama terror attack and India’s air strikes against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26, started taking actions against some of the terrorist outfits and their leaders over the past few days.
In Islamabad, the Interior Ministry on Thursday announced that a total of 121 members of the proscribed groups have so far been taken into “preventive detention” across Pakistan.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters at his biweekly news conference on Thursday, “I would say that we, the United States notes these steps and we continue to urge Pakistan to take sustained, irreversible actions against terrorist groups that will prevent future attacks and promote regional stability”.
“We reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council obligations to deny terrorists safe haven and block their entry to funds,” he said.
Responding to questions, Palladino refrained from giving a direct answer on the move at the United Nations Security Council to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
However, he said that the US and its allies in the UN Security Council want to update the UN list of terrorist organisations and leaders.
“Our views on Masood Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammed are well-known. Jaish-e-Mohammed is a United Nations-designated terrorist group that has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a threat to regional stability. Masood Azhar is the founder and leader of JEM,” Palladino said.
Questions on the United Nations Sanctions Committee deliberations are confidential and as such it is not something that the State Department is going to be able to comment on specific matters on the issue, he said.
“But we will continue to work with the sanctions committee to ensure that the list is updated and that it is accurate,” Palladino said.
At the US Capitol, India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla met Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and discussed the issue of terrorism.
“We must stand strong against acts of terrorism and work together to improve trade between our nations,” the top Republican leader said after the meeting.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.