United States President Donald Trump has described the situation between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the terror attack in Pulwama as “very dangerous”, and said that he can understand India’s desire for a “very strong” response.
On Tuesday, Trump had called the terrorist attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Mohammad as a “horrible situation”, and said that he was getting reports on it, and would issue a statement.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have already issued statements naming Pakistan, as has the State Department.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council issued a statement that “condemned in the strongest terms” the Pulwama attack, and named Jaish for the “heinous and cowardly suicide bombing”. Signalling a shift from its earlier position, China signed off on the UNSC statement.
While the Indian government did not issue an official reaction to Trump’s statement, sources in New Delhi said on Saturday that the President wanted to put pressure on Pakistan to deliver on the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Sources said the US had informed India in advance about the impending action by the Pakistan government against the Jaish and JuD in the last few days. “These actions were taken by Islamabad after the US pushed them to take action,” a source said.
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Sources told The Sunday Express that the US, which holds the presidency of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is watching Pakistan’s moves very closely, and that is one of the reasons why Pakistan is still on the grey list. Apart from the Americans, the French too are working to put pressure on Pakistan.
Also, sources said, the US immediately thinks of retaliation if security forces are hit. “Restraint is not in the lexicon when it comes to their interests. So, Trump’s language about ‘something very strong’ comes from that perspective,” a source said. This source, however, cautioned that Trump uses unconventional language shorn of diplomatese.
“India is looking at something very strong. And I mean, India just lost almost 50 people with an attack. So, I could understand that also,” Trump said Friday when asked about India’s right to self-defence.
The President was speaking with reporters at the White House after his meeting with a visiting Chinese trade delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He.
“It’s a terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India… it is a very, very bad situation and it’s a very dangerous situation between the two countries. We would like to see it stopped. A lot of people were just killed and we want to see it stopped,” he said.
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“We are talking and a lot of people are talking. But, it is a very, very delicate balance going on right now. There’s a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what just happened. We’re very much involved in that, if that’s what you’re referring to,” the President said in response to a question.
He did not elaborate on who else apart from the US was talking to India and Pakistan.
Trump claimed that the US’s relationship with Pakistan had improved even after he stopped $1.3 billion in financial aid to that country. “I stopped Pakistan, the $1.3 billion that we were paying them. In the meantime, we may set up some meetings with Pakistan… Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the United States under other Presidents and we were paying Pakistan 1.3 billion a year. I ended that payment to Pakistan because they weren’t helping us in a way that they should have. And honestly, we’ve developed a much better relationship with Pakistan over the last short period of time than we had,” he said.
Trump’s comments about a “better relationship” with Pakistan, sources said, stems from the fact that the US is currently talking to the Taliban for the exit out of Afghanistan, and it needs Pakistan’s help.
(With inputs from PTI, Washington)