The United States has asked India not to escalate the situation with Pakistan even as New Delhi explores a range of diplomatic options to isolate Islamabad.
The Indian Express has learnt that US Secretary of State John Kerry has had “two conversations” over the “last two days” with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on this issue. Swaraj was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly where she made a speech Monday, targeting Pakistan.
This is the first time that the US has spoken to the Indian leadership at a senior political level after the Uri attack, sources said.
Although it is poll season in the US, the State Department is keeping a close eye on developments in the subcontinent.
These conversations, sources said, happened in the backdrop of India and Pakistan raising the temperature over the last two days. After a review of the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty on Monday, India decided to pull out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad in November. And on Thursday, New Delhi is to review the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan.
While the US is watching the diplomatic, political and economic responses by New Delhi very carefully, sources said there is appreciation that the Indian side has acted with a “lot of restraint” following the Uri attack.
After Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Kerry last week, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said: “We’ve seen some progress; we want to see more, and I think moving forward we’ll just continue to work closely and try to encourage greater counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan but also within the region.”
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby stated later that Kerry “reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens, while commending recent efforts by Pakistani security forces to counter extremist violence.”
A readout of the meeting issued by the Pakistan embassy in New York revealed that Sharif had requested the “US Administration and Secretary Kerry to use his good offices to help in resolving bilateral issues between Pakistan and India.” Kerry met Sharif on the sidelines of the UNGA.
On Wednesday, Toner said: “What we have said many times from the podium is that we want to see closer and normalisation of relationship between India and Pakistan. It would benefit the region. We want to see de-escalation in the political discourse between the two countries and greater communication and coordination between them.” Toner said.
The State Department refrained from commenting on India’s decision to pull out of the SAARC Summit. “I would refer you to the Government of India to comment on their decision not to attend this meeting,” Toner said.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US had continued to “encourage India and Pakistan to find ways to resolve their differences, not through violence, but through diplomacy”.