Counter-terrorism has been a big focus in all recent summit-level India-US joint statements. But what makes the joint statement delivered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump different is the way it is blunt and harsh on Pakistan, showing solidarity with Indian concerns on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India.
It directly calls Pakistan a terror haven, unlike the Modi-Obama joint statements.
The statement mentions Pakistan thrice.
It calls on Pakistan to ensure that its territory isn’t used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, and to “expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.”
When we compare the Modi-Trump joint statement with Modi-Obama joint statements, we can see a visible difference.
The three joint statements after Modi-Obama summits in September 2014, January 2015 and June 2016 ask Pakistan to work to bring perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice. The January 2016 Pathankot air-base terror strike was added to the June 2016 joint statement.
But these statements don’t call Pakistan a terror haven.
The June 7, 2016 Modi-Obama joint statement talks about “bringing to justice the perpetrators of terrorism anywhere in the world and the infrastructure that supports them” and emphasizes on “the need to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from extremist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, Da’esh/ISIL, Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D Company and their affiliates.” But it stops short of calling Pakistan a terror haven, with the routine diplomatic line that “the two leaders also called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice.”
The January 25, 2015 joint statement, titled “Shared Effort; Progress for All,” was issued when Barack Obama was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade. It called “for ‘zero tolerance’ and reaffirmed deep concern over the continued threat posed by transnational terrorism including by groups like Al Qaeda and the ISIL, and called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border movement of terrorists.”
It also highlighted the need for “joint and concerted efforts to disrupt entities such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company and the Haqqani Network”, noting the US sanctions against three D Company affiliates. But the mention of Pakistan was limited to “bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.”
Similarly, the joint statement issued after the first bilateral summit between Modi and Obama on September 30, 2014 “stressed the need for joint and concerted efforts, including the dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks, to disrupt all financial and tactical support for networks such as Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis with the similar worn-out line on Pakistan that “it needs to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai to justice.”
India has long been complaining to the US about its “good vs bad terror” approach to Pakistan. The US would slam Pakistan for letting the Haqqani Faction, the Taliban and Al Qaeda use Pakistani soil to perpetrate terror in Afghanistan but would never go beyond customary condemnations on Pakistan-based groups pushing terrorism in India. It seems that’s changing now.
Even if symbolic, US pressure made Pakistan put LeT chief Hafiz Saeed under house-arrest. Yesterday, the US designated Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist. And now, there’s a joint statement that specifically asks Pakistan to crackdown on terror networks operating from its soil.