The United States on Thursday joined India to call upon Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the terrorists responsible for the November 26-28, 2008 attacks in Mumbai as well as other cross-border terror strikes.
The first India-US 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi saw both sides agreeing to step up efforts for gathering and sharing intelligence on “known or suspected terrorists” as well as to “implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters”.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James N Mattis for the inaugural India-America 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi on Thursday.
With the 10th anniversary of the November 26-28, 2008 terrorist strikes in Mumbai less than three months away, Pompeo and Mattis joined Swaraj and Sitharaman to call upon Pakistan Government to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the attack. The 26/11 attack was carried out by 10 terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba – an anti-India outfit based in Pakistan. Over 160 people were killed in the attack. Though persistent pressure from India forced Pakistan to arrest some LeT leaders and operatives in connection with the attack, the trial against them did not make much progress in the past 10 years. Hafiz Saeed, whom New Delhi suspects to be the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, continues to live free in Pakistan. Another top LeT commander Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, who allegedly coordinated the attacks, was released on bail in 2015.
The US on Thursday also joined India to call upon Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, who were responsible for the attacks on Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab in January 2016 and a brigade headquarters of Indian Army at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir in September 2016.
“We committed to deepen our already strong counter-terrorism cooperation,” Pompeo said after the 2+2 dialogue. Mattis too recalled the 26/11 terror strikes as “a senseless attack”.
“On the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we recognized the importance of justice and retribution for the masterminds behind this terrorist attack,” Swaraj said.
The two sides took note of the launch of a bilateral dialogue on the designation of terrorists in 2017. The mechanism is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates, they noted on Thursday.
Swaraj welcomed the US move to designate LeT operatives as global terrorists and imposing sanctions on them. “They (designations of terrorists by the US) underscore the international community’s scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike.”
She noted that India supported US President Donald Trump’s South Asia Policy. “His call for Pakistan to stop its policy of supporting cross-border terrorism finds resonance with us,” said External Affairs Minister.
“We discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the US in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process, that brings together all ethnic groups and political formation in the country,” said Swaraj.